Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Khaled Hosseini - 1000 Splendid Suns

This is the second book by the author of The Kite Runner. I have not yet seen that film, though I have read the book.

Hosseini's novel covers the miserable lives of two women in Afghanistan, covering the period before the arrival of communism, its overthrow, the jihad, the coming to power of the Taliban. It ends as the Taliban have been removed, and Laila and her childhood love, Tariq, reunited after many years, return to Kabul.
I found the book interesting for its social history, the information about the position of women, and the exploration of the relationship between the two central characters. Mariam the illegitimate child of a rich man from Herat,is married off to Rasheed, a bitter older man and the relationship becomes increasingly oppressive and violent as she fails to give him a child. Twenty years later Laila, the daughter of an educated couple in Kabul, who die in an explosion, becomes Rasheed's wife, in order to cover up her pregnancy by Tariq. The relationship between husband and wife turns sour after the birth of Laila's second child, a boy. Meanwhile the two women change from enemies to close friends.

I would have enjoyed the book much more if Rasheed had not been such an obnoxious individual. The personal violence becomes more horrifying than all the repression going on in the country.

Another aspect that I found unsatisfying is the shift in point of view from Mariam to Laila part of the way through the book. I would have liked to follow Mariam more closely during the intervening years before she and Laila are thrown together.


Ham said...

I have 'Kite Runner' on the shelf at home and have been meaning to read it, considering that it's supposed to be a great book. I have seen the film and I wasn't impressed; I wouldn't go as far as to say that the movie was "bad", becuase the story was interesting, but something about how the film was done just didn't grab me. Is '1000 Splendid Suns' a sequel that I need to read 'Kite Runner' first or is it just the author's second novel?

Right now I am reading 'The Diving Bell And The Butterfly' which so far, I would recommend as a great memoir.

aliqot said...

Hi there,
'Kite Runner' is a completely separate book. I read it and liked it, but I haven't seen the film. I'm always at least a couple of years behind with films.

'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' - I just looked this up to check that it was what I thought. There's a film which I haven't seen either. It sounds as though the book must have been unbelievably slow to produce. What a scary situation to be in!
I'll look out for it.