Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner was coined as a classic after it featured for innumerable weeks in the New York Times Bestseller list. His second creation A Thousand Splendid Suns reaffirms his power and flair as a storyteller. He seems to weave magic with his words and his themes are almost poetic.
If The Kite Runner was about bonding between fathers and sons, harping on themes of love and friendship, A Thousand Splendid Suns is all about the woman-to-woman relationship and of mother-daughter bond – reiterating the themes of love and friendship, only this time more mature and fuller. Spanning three generations it encompasses the life of men and women in Afghanistan under the Soviet rule along with having to deal with the rise of the Taliban. We come to know about their hardships, of their daily struggle for existence and identity and of their brave effort to triumph over natural and man-made obstacles.
Women as Protagonists
A Thousand Splendid Suns principally centers around two women from two generations, Mariam and Laila. Hailing from diametrically opposite backgrounds the two of them come to a point in their lives when they are face to face and experiencing similar stereo-typical trials and tribulations of an Afghan woman. The story thereon annals the highs and lows of their life now intertwined; their slow but progressively steady journey from foe to friend, to confidant and mother-daughter – all rolled into one. While the other characters revolve around them each of them is endowed with an identity of its own by Hosseini.
Hosseini’s Story-telling Aspects
Hosseini as a writer belongs to the old school of thought. His plot in A Thousand Splendid Suns is like its predecessor, dramatic and sentimental, showcasing fundamental emotions of love and hate, of black and white characters, of heroes and villains. Like Hardy and Dickens he believes in poetic justice in the way he treats Evil. Evil subjugates the Good initially but eventually bows out to the sheer stamina of holding on of the Good. Here Rasheed the cruel and misogynist husband is the embodiment of this evil. The ills of society comes through to us in the social fabric of Afghanistan.
A retrograde step in civilization as such, Afghanistan upholds its belief in male domination, women exploitation, terrorism and lust for power, the last symbolized by the Taliban. Some parts of the novel are heart wrenching; tearing apart your soul by exposing the cruelties inflicted on women, specially in contrast to the land of America where Hosseini resides. Himself an immigrant to U.S from Afghanistan in 1980, the author has as if taken upon himself the responsibility of bringing before the world the ills of his forefather’s society in the hope of a better day there.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a must read for those who seek inspiration and for those who care to become aware of a world markedly different from theirs. A beautiful saga of two women whose lives are woven together by fate, who not only undergo a transformation in themselves but usher a whole new way of life for the generations to come. The book is an eyeopener and a whole new learning experience. Read it.