Khaled Hosseini on A Thousand Splendid Suns' Theatrical Debut
It's been ten years since the publication of Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. This month, the novel about three generations of Afghan women living in the war-torn Kabul is being adapted into a stage play, premiering at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
A review of the play in The San Francisco Chronicle said of the production, "So often in our stories, be they fairy tales or kitchen sink dramas or founding myths, heroism, which is male, is possible only through a sacrifice, which is female and promptly forgotten. In this play, to be a hero is to love; in a world of hate and fear—in any world—there is no more courageous act."
We asked Hosseini, who also wrote The Kite Runner, to tell us what it was like to see his novel come to the stage:
"The idea of adapting A Thousand Splendid Suns for the stage holds great appeal for me. Both as a fan of theater, as someone who appreciates the immense communal joy of this ancient art form, but also as the book's author, one of the first things I made clear to Carey Perloff and Ursula Rani Sarma—the artistic director and the playwright, respectively—was that I wished for this production to be their vision. I wanted to grant them the creative license to explore the story rather than feel constricted by it, the freedom to tell it as it lived in their minds when they first read it.
To me, the point never was to have them prop up Mariam and Laila intact from the novel on the stage but to let the audience experience the story anew through this other portal, to hear what it said to someone other than its original creator.
And then there is the unexpected timeliness of a theatrical adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's a tale being retold at a time when we are engaged as a nation in a sometimes contentious debate about the plight of refugees and, among other things, the very nature of our relationship with the Middle East and its people.
It strikes me as a good time to be reminded that whether we worship in a church or a temple or a mosque, or nowhere at all, there are core elements that make up the human experience, things we all share as creatures on this planet that far outweigh our differences. Storytelling reminds us of this easily forgotten fact. And it is all too easy to forget that Laila, Mariam, Aziza, Tariq, and Zalmai might as well be the countless individuals who, at this very moment, are fleeing extremism and violence, the desperate souls crossing the Mediterranean, and other borders and frontiers, risking life and limb, searching for a measure of safety, peace, and dignity.
Political rhetoric has a way of trampling all over human beings as individuals, people with faces. It falls to the artist to shine a light on these faces instead. I hope this play accomplishes that."
Discover more of Khaled Hosseini's works and add them to your Want to Read shelf.
And check out more recent blogs:
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