“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
The book next on my list for my Reading Tales is Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It vividly describes the plight of women in Afghanistan under the strict and inhuman patriarchal rule of the Taliban. This book made me aware of the privileges that I enjoyed without realising it.
The story takes place between the years 1960–2005, drawing major references to the actual events that took place in Afghanistan during that timeline. And what better time to reminisce these impactful stories when that country is again battling the menace.
I became a fan of Hosseini after reading The Kite Runner. While Kite Runner is a story of men, the multi-generational story of the Thousand Splendid Suns, narrates the turbulent history of 30 years, spanning from Soviet occupation to the Taliban control, through the eyes of otherwise anonymous women living beneath identity-diminishing burqas.
The novel revolves around the life of two women – the intertwining of the lives of Mariam and Laila and their struggle to survive in the turbulent world. The story starts with a naïve Mariam, branded a harami, an illegitimate child living with her bitter mother and seemingly affectionate father. As the chapters proceed we are introduced to new horrors of her life, the emptiness in her father’s love, the much older husband Rasheed and the domestic abuse that ensued. The second narrative is about another innocent child Laila who grew up in a loving family and had an education. The worlds of these two women are entirely different but destiny brought them together while enduring similar unyielding circumstances due to the vicious tyranny of marriage to the same increasingly unhinged man in a war-torn Afghanistan. The resilience of these women and how they come to know each other is like magic on the page.
This story is about social prejudices, the toughness in the human spirit, the torture of Taliban rule. But, above all, it is a story about how women are often the principal support for each other and can survive even the most egregious abuses of power. Mariam is one of the most tragic characters I have come across, and one of the strongest too.
While reading this book I thanked God for gifting me a life where I did not have to endure hardships simply because I was born a female in a male dominant and oppressive society. The book taught me to be grateful for what we have, by never taking the people that bring happiness and fulfilment in our lives for granted.
Mentioning some of my favourite quotes –
“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.”
“I’m sorry,” Laila says, marvelling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.”
“Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. 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 women suffer.”
“Marriage can wait. Education cannot…Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.”
This book was an experience of a lifetime. It grew inside me, shattered the heart, yet taught the lesson of love, tolerance, and courage. That’s the power of this novel.
I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My friend Alexa #MyFriendAlexa.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sreeparna Sen (Wizardencil) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content
This was one of the best hardhitting books I have read in life! What a treat! Great review.
This review has pushed me further to add this book to my reading list soonest. Thanks for such a balanced review.
This is a hard-hitting book.
Will check it book out soon. I have it with me, courtesy husband.
I have read the kit runner and can say one of my best read so far. Will check Thousand Splendid Suns..I am sure this too will be a great read.
This is on my TBR too, glad I came across this post:)
I am sure you would love it.
I still need to read this one. It’s been on my shelf for ages. Great review!
Both Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are two of my favourite books. I am glad you wrote about this book…as you stated, the story is quite relevant to our times and reading your review makes me pick up the book once again for a reread.
My all time favourite book.
Khaled Hosseini is one of my favorite writers. Your articulate review has done complete justice to this bittersweet book.
One of the best books I have read, along with the Kite runner. Your review is bang on especially the quotes. This book lingers long after reading it.
One of my fav reads. Thanks for making me revisit it with your review.
I picked up this book when I was pregnant but my friend suggested not to read it because of its impact. Your review reminded me of it and I’ll read it again.
@myworldwitheira your friend was absolutely correct. It has very graphic description of miscarriage.
2 of khalid are in my library, but yet to lay my hands on either. Your review amd the comments people have left about the book has motivated me enough to read them soon.
This was a difficult read for me. So sad to know about the patriachy in Afghanistan. I had completed this book in 24hrs.
I have read this and kite runner as well. These are wonderful books. You wrote a good review of the book.
With Afghanistan again back into the hands of people whom it shouldn’t, the book is very apt for people to know of the atrocities women face and how now they started even raising their voice against people who are hell bent on taking back their rights.
This book seems to be sharing on the difficult journey they have been and maybe They re back to square one. Feel bad as the review of the book highlights of such challenges and experiences of them
This book is on my bookshelf for days now. This review makes me pick it up next.
We are really blessed to be living in such a nice society….hope to read this book soon…