A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ~Goodreads~
Published by Bloomsbury 2007
Paperback 384 pages ~The Book Depository~
A Thousand Splendid Suns documents Afghan history from before the Soviet war until after the Taliban rule. The violence that erupted from this period resulted in the inevitable abuse towards women.
The story demonstrates both the second class, serf-like treatment of Mariam and Laila and their oppression to physical and emotional brutality that was allowed, enabled and endorsed. The story brings out the bravery, kindness and self-resilience of these two women, despite the harsh reality of the story, the compassion shown by both women while trying to survive in an oppressive environment is greatly uplifting.
For my GCSE’s and A-level qualifications I studied Religious Studies and so I was aware of how women were viewed and treated by the Afghan’s, especially the Taliban was/is like. These studies helped me understand greatly the religion of Islam and what the role of women was and how extreme groups took the literal text of their holy book to a severe level to which it brought women no respect. Women were worth nothing to them except baby making machines who stayed at home to cook, clean and please their husbands. No room for ambition at all. Khaled really brought these happenings to life and gave a sense of valiance and courage to the two women, a sense of girl power of sticking together and fighting through each day.
The story begins with the upbringing of Mariam a child of illegitimate birth raised in a small hut outside the city of Herat living with her mother otherwise referred to in the book as Nana. Laila a generation younger than Mariam who was born in Kabul where her father hopes she will contribute to Afghan society. These two women build a strong bond when their worlds collide because of three men; Jalil, Tariq and Rasheed.
Life with Rasheed for the two women turns into a time of mental and physical abuse, and at times it was hard to keep on reading. It made me wish something awful to happen to Rasheed for his unforgivable actions towards these innocent women. I was really touched by the sheer bravery from these two women and what they went through, from the public humiliation of being forced to wear a burqa so no other man could see their faces and the punishments for cooking a meal wrong was just astonishing. I remember studying the Taliban in school and learning of their beliefs and punishments to women and you know when you just have to pinch yourself and go wait, men actually did/do this to women? It just really made me think and just how we can’t possibly imagine what it must be like, sure you’re reading a book centered around it gives you an idea but nothing near of what it actually was like for these women.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the story will has a big place in my heart, and Khaled has such a way of delivering real life happenings into a story that gives you a sense of realism and honesty. I like that about his writing most of all, its not just a story but also an element of what’s actually happened that should be addressed in our lives instead of it being shielded from us. I do enjoy my history too, so this probably swayed by decision for the rating of this book!