Books Reviews

‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ a heartbreaking, eye-opening look at Afghanistan

Przysietnica, POLAND – Two years have passed since all eyes of the world were on Afghanistan, where in 2021, the Taliban regained power after 20 years.

August 2021 became the beginning of massive humanitarian crisis and tragedy of Afghan people – especially women – whose rights are completely disregarded by the government.

The history of this country, located in the south-central Asia, and the appalling situation of women living there, is remarkably depicted in a book by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in Afghanistan from the 1960s to 1990s, portrays the dual narrative of two women whose lives are connected by fate. First, we meet young Mariam, an illegitimate child of a rich entrepreneur and his former maid.

From the beginning, we feel enormous pity for the child who utterly loves her father but is too naïve to see his cowardness and the hollowness of his love.

When Mariam sees his true colors, she is forced to marry Rasheed, a shoemaker who is almost 30 years older than she is.

The second main character is Laila, who was born into loving and caring family.

But her peaceful childhood violently ends when war enters her home city of Kabul and a bomb dropped at her house kills both of her parents. Laila is then left with only one option: marry her 60-year-old neighbor and live with him and his wife.

What amazes me in this book is number of emotions that you go through reading Hosseini’s work. It captures pain, pity, hate, love, hope and grief.

At some point you even feel compassion for negative characters.

Another way Hosseini shows his literary artistry is by portraying the history of Afghanistan in such an accessible and captivating way. He draws attention to the situation of Afghan women, who were denied basic rights, forbidden from studying, working and accessing proper healthcare.

What needs to be said is that this novel is not for everyone. It represents difficult topics such as domestic and sexual abuse, which makes it a hard read for sensitive people.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a heartbreaking, yet uplifting story about a hard friendship between two women who come from entirely different environments with entirely different personalities and ages.

If you want to have a really good cry, make sure to reach for this book.

Magdalena Tokarczyk is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

Leave a Comment