“A Thousand Splendid Suns” By Khaled Hosseini

Respect and acceptance are qualities that the world requires for progress. We as humans do not choose whether we are born human or animal, neither do we choose whether we are born a male, female or a transgender. At the same time we also do not get to choose the features we are naturally born with, how we naturally look or what is the natural color of our eyes or hair. These are all things that are decided by the cosmos after which we are sent in this world and growing up we adhere and adjust to them.

As I grew up particularly in a male-dominant society I soon came to realize with a specific rationality that it is not about being a male or female or even a transgender that matters, it is about being human. It is not about respecting or disrespecting someone based on their gender, it is about regarding or disregarding someone based on the actions they commit as a human not as a specific gender.

It took me a long time to realize that but when I did I was glad that I did. The most simple example I can give is that of rape. Rape in no shape or form is justified whether it is against any gender or not. This is an action against the human rights and no human is justified to do it or to be its victim. A Thousand Splendid Suns has opened my eyes to the bitter realities of today and of unsolicited actions that still continue in the society I live in and probably other societies in which millions of other people live in too. However this opening of the eyes and the senses is perhaps really important to survive in this world and to move forward with the right perspective.

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Picture Credits: wolfgangs

To be utterly honest, this book has been on my reading bucket list as I like to call it for a decent amount of time after I first heard about it from one my good friends. We often used to talk about books and life in general. Now since I was too lazy to actually get it from the bookstore and yes I do not read books online or on audible or kindle thus my generous friend decided to lend it to me for a while so I can read it. Now my problem is that I am a terrifically slow reader while my friend has a good reading speed. So I made her wait at least three weeks after which I finally finished reading it and returned the book to her.

If it wasn’t for her generosity, it would probably have been another year or two before I read it. But even the thought of continuing life without reading this book is riveting to me because just this one read has moved me, my life, my perceptions and my knowledge in such different directions that I believe that everyone should at least once in their life read this book as soon as possible. Being the first book I read of Khaled Hosseini, I absolutely came to adore his writing style, his expression and the way he unconditionally connects his characters.

The Author, Plot and More Information

So, A Thousand Splendid Suns is written by the Afghan-born American novelist, Khaled Hosseini. Now Khaled Hosseini is a pretty astounding writer and is in fact the writer of the famous novel, The Kite Runner. He was originally born in Kabul, Afghanistan but later moved to Paris and then California. He actually got a degree in biology and then started working in the specified field as a physician. However later he started writing his first novel, The Kite Runner which was an amazing hit and thus moved on to full-time writing. Here are few of his notable works:

  • The Kite Runner
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • The Mountains Echoed
  • Sea Prayer
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                                   Khaled Hosseini                                 Picture Credits: twitter/khaledhosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book that speaks to a variety of people a diversity of languages, cultures, traditions and expressions. This book is not just rich with lessons but with humanity and humility. I always say that a book worth carrying in your hands is equivalent to embracing a human.

The brief plot of this book revolves around two girls from differing backgrounds living in Afghanistan. One is Mariam who was born near Herat in Afghanistan. She lived with her mother Nana who is stubborn towards her while her father Jalil who is a businessman often visits her since she is his only illegitimate child. Adoring her father she disobeys her mother and goes to see him on her 15th birthday. However her father has her sent back after spending the night outside his house. Upon returning her mother has committed suicide and thus she is later married to Rasheed an old man whose wife and son are dead.

He treats her better in the start but later becomes stubborn and abusive as Mariam gets abortion after an abortion since Rasheed’s only need is a son to replace his dead one. Alternatively, in their neighborhood lives another girl named Laila who belongs to an educated and liberal family. As the political status of Afghanistan worsens by invasion after invasion, Laila’s lover Tariq decides to leave Afghanistan and go to Peshawar. She refuses at first but weeks later her family decides to do the same however while they’re packing a bomb hits their house and her entire family is killed and she is wounded. Mariam and Rasheed take care of her but since Laila is pregnant with Tariq’s child she marries Rasheed. Laila and Mariam have arguments in the beginning but later they form this bond of friendship against the abusive behavior of their husband Rasheed.

The main characters of the novel include:

  1. Mariam
  2. Rasheed
  3. Laila
  4. Tariq

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

– Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns 

My Review and Experience Regarding The Book

This book has taught me lessons like every other book has but at the same time this book hold its own diverse place like every other book does as well. If we think carefully, every book teaches us something even if it’s just a new word or an expression but the type of lesson it teaches, the way it teaches it and its expressions and characters is what makes each book diverse and different from the other. A Thousand Splendid Suns is undoubtedly a book that I hold really close to my heart and my consciousness and its effect on my youthful brain is meant to be eternal.

One of the greatest features about this book is that it talks about different situations that are continually happening in the world in various societies. Things like child marriages, marital rape, gender inequality, rape and woman empowerment are the causes this book talks about. These are topics that are considered to be taboo in the Muslim Asian Societies and especially the South Western Asian countries. However no matter how hard it is to talk and converse and communicate about these topics, it is still equally important enough to raise awareness regarding them.

Especially the way the author connects each topic with an event that speaks for itself and makes the reader realize that yes, this is the type of things that are going in the society around me or millions of societies around the world. It gives the individual space to think for themselves and to look around, read, enlighten the mind and form their own perceptions on these specific topics. For example the way Mariam was treated by Rasheed when the food she made was a little salty. Rasheed physically beat her and then went outside, got a few stones and forcefully stuffed them in Mariam’s mouth and ordered her to chew the stones as a form of punishment.

And as much as it is true that incidents like these in the book ripped my heart to shreds and I ended up crying through the entire night because of the weight of the words. However at the same time my mind did comprehend the fact that this is what has been happening in our society for centuries and even in the 21st Century when the world is progressing with great means things like these still continue in many societies and in dark, unlit street corners. It made me realize that it is not going to take only one person for change to show itself but it is going to take each and every person to stand up together for the right cause for change to occur. Change won’t come with misogyny or misandry, it would come with gender equality, humility, empathy and humanity.

“Marriage can wait, education cannot.”

– Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns 

Another appreciable feature of this book is the way the author has represented both aspects of Afghanistan during the years of the Soviet Invasion along with the reign of the Taliban and post-Taliban reign, from the views of the invaders and the common people and their sufferings. For example the way Laila and other Afghanis got used to the voice of explosions and bombs whirring past them and the uncertainty of where the next bomb will hit. Even Laila’s entire family was killed after being hit by a bomb while they were planning to leave Afghanistan for Peshawar.

Khaled Hosseini has in this book been successful in building this bond between characters. Whether that bond is of friendship or of love or want or need, this bond and the way the author has succeeded in leading the story in a way to the development of that bond is astounding and beautiful.

At the same time his unpardonable expression of human psychology in all various factions of life has contributed to the intricate plot and each of its story line and characters. This representation of human psychology is what gives you an insight on the different types of people, perspectives and actions that exist in the world.

However one feature that did bother me only in the beginning though was the complication and the intricacy of the plot. There was just so many events that were happening that to keep them all in the mind at once in rational connection was a bit challenging at first but later became easy as you further become an active part of the book, the story and the characters in the midst of all the events and actions.

Regarding the length of the book, I would say that it took me three weeks to read it since I am a slow reader and on top of that I had school and assignments and homework and my examinations were coming up. However generally I would say that the book does have a moderate length.

This book is definitely not a one-sided job. You need to be an active part of it and think for yourself as well.

My Favorite Lines From the Book

Here are a few lines from the book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from A Thousand Splendid Suns  and they are written by Khaled Hosseini, I was just too lazy to write it besides every line.)

  • “Marriage can wait, education cannot.”
  • “A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated…”
  • “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
    Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
  • “Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”
  • “Behind every trial and sorrow that He makes us shoulder, God has a reason.”
  • “Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.”
  • “And that, …is the story of our country, one invasion after another…Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we’re like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.”

“A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her.”

– Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns 

4 thoughts on ““A Thousand Splendid Suns” By Khaled Hosseini

  1. Loved your positive take on this very painful (even a bit depressing) novel.
    What I love about Khalid Hosseni’s books is that you learn a bit more about the socio-political situation of Afghanistan, which not a lot of people talk about.
    Do read the Kite Runner. Still one of my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

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