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A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by by Khaled Hosseini

Posted on March 10, 2011 by Abha Herur  | Blog | Events

A Thousand Splendid Suns gave readers an intimate look at Afghanistan and the difficulties faced by people living there. It primarily focuses on mothers and daughters, and the friendship between women. Hosseini, quite clearly puts forward his intentions of dealing with the plight of women in Afghanistan which can be seen in the opening pages, where the mother of one of the novel’s two heroines talks portentously about “our lot in life,” the lot of poor, uneducated “women like us” who have to endure the hardships of life, the slights of men, the disdain of society. It attempts to show the fallout that Afghanistan’s violent history has had on a handful of individuals, ending in death at the hands of the Taliban for one character, and the promise of a new life for another. The story is brought out through the lives of Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a bitter woman and disloyal father - an unlucky girl whose luck turns from bad to worse; Rasheed, a brute of a man who says it embarrasses him “to see a man who has lost control on his wife” and is intent on debasing his two wives; and Laila, the great beauty, with a doting father and a protective boyfriend - a lucky girl whose luck abruptly runs out. The story begins with Mariam having to deal with her mother’s death which is immediately followed by the hardships of being married off to Rasheed, a man almost 30 years older than her. She becomes pregnant seven successive times, but is never able to carry a child to term, and Rasheed gradually becomes more abusive making Mariam’s life hell. War comes to Afghanistan, and Kabul is bombarded by rocket attacks. Laila's family decides to leave Kabul, but as they are packing to leave, a rocket destroys the house, kills her parents, and severely injures Laila. Laila is then taken in by Rasheed and Mariam. After recovering from her injuries, she discovers that she is pregnant. She arranges to marry Rasheed, who is eager to have a young and attractive second wife, and hopes to pass her unborn child off as his. Laila however, delivers a girl child, and is soon victim to Rasheed’s abusive behaviour and suspicion. Through all this, Laila and Mariam become confidants and share a bond as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban takes over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.

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