A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel by Khaled Hosseini that tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, separated by years of birth and childhood, but bound by their future in adulthood; as co-wives to a brooding Rasheed in a sad household. This household and their backstory are the microcosm of the story that is A Thousand Splendid Suns; set in the time of a war-torn Afghanistan and the hostile Taliban rule. These two women lose everything and everyone precious to them; parents, siblings, dearly beloved, and at some point, one another, but the bond they form transcends every other bond formed.

 

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

 

From the story’s first page, a certain curiosity at the back of my mind was how the author got the novel’s title. I came to satiety after coming across that quote, from the poem about the beauty of Kabul, written by 17th-century Persian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi. Laila’s father, Babi, cried about how he used to know the whole poem and all he could remember was two lines. Those two lines, to me, stand as metaphors representing the women of Afghanistan, and their resilience despite all the adversity against them, their sons, brothers, and fathers.

 

Khaled Hosseini’s writing is well-paced; it makes you feel things, feel people, without you being told. No part of the story is rushed; everything unfolds at the right speed. The contrast between the characters of the docile Mariam, and the daring Laila, is impossible to miss. How they evolved to a mutual understanding is a testament to the author’s dexterity in building characters with life and the ability to adapt. Every character’s loss is deeply felt because they’re not just characters created to fill pages; every character is significant to the whole story.

 

Like The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 5/5. I recommend it to lovers of historical and domestic fiction.

 

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