Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publish Date: May 2007
Genre: Non-Western Literature, Adult Fiction
Page Count: 384 pages
Taking place in Iraq, A Thousand Splendid Suns takes a good look at the roles and relationships with women in the country.
The book opens with Mariam, the illegitimate child of a well known public figure in a nearby town. Because she is a bastard child, she and her mother are forced to live in isolation, so Jalil, her father, will not be embarrassed. This leaves Mariam's mother a very bitter woman.
Fast forward a few years. Mariam is forced into an arranged marriage. She knows nothing about her role as a wife or housekeeper, and the reader sees her suffer for it. When Rasheed, Mariam's husband, takes a second wife, Laila, Mariam is outraged. Laila is young enough to be Mariam's own daughter, though she has never had children herself. This creates much animosity between the two women. However, as the country and the city they live in fall into turmoil and their existence becomes more difficult, the two women find solace in each other's company.
This novel is a very accurate picture of the lives that Iraqi women and wives are forced to live. The latest part of this novel takes place in the early 2000's. The contrast between the two women and their unlikely friendship makes for a very compelling novel. The historical backdrop of the country as it switches government powers and such was interesting as well.
I had to read this novel for a non-western literature class, and it was by far one of my favorites. Hosseini (also author of The Kite Runner) makes you connect with these characters, especially if you are a woman. With moments of triumph and deep heartbreak and despair, this novel is a great read. Overall, I would give it a 5 out of 5.
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