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January 2017: Foreign Literature > "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini (4 and a half stars)

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message 1: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2207 comments "There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life" says Mariam's mother Nana at the start of the book, "Only one skill. And it's this: tahamul. Endure."

The book is a salutary history lesson in recent regime changes in Afghanistan, from just before the Soviet occupation to the overthrow of the Taliban. Above all, though, this novel is Hosseini's tribute to the women of his home country who endure: loss of their family and friends, slaughter or starvation of their children, subjugation and powerlessness, rape and other physical and emotional abuse, destruction of their homes and their cities through the senselessness of war. But far from despairing, though despair would be understandable, Hosseini chooses to portray hope in the form of two totally different women, Mariam and Laila, who rely on each other and gain strength from one another to survive with their spirit intact. A few lines of a Hafez poem towards the end sum it up:
Joseph shall return to Canaan, grieve not,
Hovels shall turn to rose gardens, grieve not.
If a flood should arrive, to drown all that's alive,
Noah is your guide in the typhoon's eye, grieve not.


The message of hope is vital, and one has to cling to it, but I struggled with this book. Not to read it, for I could hardly put it down, but with my own anger and sadness - both at the treatment of the women Mariam and Laila represent, and at the utter stupidity of war. While the book was set in the city where "a thousand splendid suns ... hide behind her walls", my thoughts were also drawn time and again to the more recent annihilation of Aleppo. More women, more children, more men, more refugees, more pain. Sitting here in my privileged and peaceful part of the world, I'm grateful to Hosseini for doing his bit to try to prod conscience into action.


message 2: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) This is my favorite book by Hosseini. I gave it 5 stars. I agree with you that it's a very powerful book, thought-provoking, and it can definitely make the reader struggle with anger and sadness.


message 3: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5529 comments I read this before I really started writing more comprehensive reviews. But I gave it 4 stars. I liked The Kite Runner better.


message 4: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 1903 comments This is also my favorite of Hosseini's books and was my favorite book of 2007. That was long before I started tracking my books but it was definitely 5 Stars for me.


message 5: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2207 comments Book Concierge wrote: "I read this before I really started writing more comprehensive reviews. But I gave it 4 stars. I liked The Kite Runner better."

I liked Kite Runner better too - I thought the story was more fluid and the characters were better rounded. This is why Thousand Suns ended up lower for me, but still so powerful.


message 6: by LibraryCin (last edited Jan 26, 2017 06:20PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments Marina wrote: "This is my favorite book by Hosseini. "

Also my favourite by Hosseini! I gave it either 4.5 or possibly 5 stars (5 stars from me is very rare)!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

KateNZ wrote: "Book Concierge wrote: "I read this before I really started writing more comprehensive reviews. But I gave it 4 stars. I liked The Kite Runner better."

I liked Kite Runner better too - I thought the story was more fluid and the characters were better rounded. This is why Thousand Suns ended up lower for me, but still so powerful...."


That sums up my thoughts about the two books as well. I thought the overall story and characterization was better in The Kite Runner, although I liked both books.


message 8: by Regina Lindsey (new)

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments I just totally <3 Hosseini. Good grief, when will he write another book?! Glad this was a winner for you.


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