Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The scenario is so bleak and the story so sad that you wonder where the thousand suns are shining. The miserable lives, women in Afghanistan have been forced to lead during the political turmoil of the last 50 years. And probably before that too, in a society where men can marry twice and thrice so easily, beat their wives to a pulp, take away their rights on a whim and treat them as little more than useful cattle.

This is the life of Mariam, born to a father who cannot acknowledge her and a mother who resents it bitterly. Her life is always controlled by other people and the one time she tries to take control; it ends up in even greater disaster. She resigns herself to a life of utter loneliness and suppression. Except for her last brave, swan song.

Yet there is the other protagonist, Laila, beautiful, clever and bold who is always fighting against her circumstances. Beaten down literally and by circumstances again and again, she rises each time to try and carve her own life.
And hopes to see the thousand suns rising on her own city, Kabul.

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Life in Afghanistan sounds so unbearable to us, cocooned in comfort and security and freedom, that you wonder how human beings can survive such things. Or want to return to such a country. But they do. And it is that spirit which makes the book worth reading. The story leads one on, though it does invoke feelings of guilt and horror.

The characters didn’t really come alive for me. Maybe it is because I know that it is a man writing, but they didn’t seem real flesh and blood characters, or they are far too removed from my experiences. But Kabul and its horrors stay in the mind.
A book to read definitely.


Happy Kitten said...

I agree to what you said...
we take our freedom for granted..

I am yet to read this book..

thanks for pasing by my blog.....

hope to see more photos of Ooty..

Maddy said...

kallu- personally i liked 'kite runner' more compared to 1000 suns. some time back i had written about that book & hosseini, maybe it was the fact that i heard kite runner as an audio book read by hosseini himself that madeit even more endearing..

one thing about 1000 suns that i did not quite like was how & when laila's old flame turns up - it was quite bollywoodish..

kallu said...

Happy kitten, photos of Ooty - soon,yes.

kallu said...

Maddy - Kite Runner was in a separate class by itself.
How do you listen to a book being read? One, Isn't it tiring and two, how do you make so much time?
True - now you mention it Tariq turning up is so Bollywoodish. All stories all universal:-)
Maddy, they needed a little rain in their lives - what other happy ending could there be? We can give them that.

Maddy said...

normally difficult - audio books are only for us in california (just joking - same in banagalore) where we have massive traffic jams. i have a 40 mile drive each way to office which takes 1.5 with hosseini telling the story in the background, it is at least eventful!!

kallu said...

Only for sunny Californians then.:-)
Sounds like you are making good out of a bad thing. Nice.

So, do you have to wait impatiently for the next instalment? Or you switch off instantly?

Maddy said...

no it is all in one or two cd's, split into many chapters. normal audio files!!