Monday, 9 September 2013

Book Review - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (MEERA NAIR 1313121)

Book – A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author – Khaled Hosseini
Related To – Lajwanti by Rajinder Singh Bedi

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a novel written in an Afghani setting, which is about the life and times of 2 women – Mariam and Laila. It is published in four parts to facilitate easy reading from both of their perspectives. Khaled Hosseini vividly describes each detail and leaves us riveted to the progressing plot.
The first part introduces Mariam as an illegitimate daughter of Jalil Khan, one of the wealthiest men of Herat.  Deprived of equality or justice, she and her mother are driven away to the countryside by his family. Upon the death of her mother, Jalil’s three wives take matters into their own hands. Against her will, they force Mariam into a marriage with Rasheed, a shoe maker from Kabul old enough to be her father.  At first he is tolerant, almost cordial. But her inability to conceive brings about a volatile change in his behavior.
On the other hand, Laila is a young girl born into a Tajik family residing in Kabul. In the absence of her elder brothers, Laila forms a strong bond with Tariq. Tariq is a couple of years older than her and is of Pashtun background. She soon realizes her feelings for Tariq go way beyond friendship. But when an unfortunate event renders her an orphan, Rasheed takes her in as his second wife.  This is where friendship blossoms between Mariam and Laila. There’s a sense of understanding and empathy that brings them together albeit the jealousy that lurks in Mariam’s conscience.
I found this novel to be very eye-opening. It portrayed how war causes upheaval and distress in the lives of innocent people.  Like when Laila’s two elder brothers - Ahmed and Noor – die, her mother retreats to oblivion, burdening Laila with the responsibilities of the household. She refuses to acknowledge Laila’s existence and completely dwells in the loss of her sons. She faces a lot of neglect from her mother. The author has sketched Laila as a very mature and understanding girl considering her age.

There is heavy emphasis on conservative and traditional themes in this novel like that of clothing restrictions that women face and the fact that men are allowed to have more than one wife. Suppression of woman, chauvinism and familial neglect are at play throughout the heart-rending plot.

The novel ends on a positive note, which shows that there is still hope, regardless of how dreary and bleak the situation may have been in Kabul. It is strongly recommended for everyone, especially those who are unaware of the conditions persisting in Afghanistan. 

- Meera Nair
1st CEP
(In charge of making and managing this blog)

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