BOOK REVIEW

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

The main theme is feminism and the place of woman in Afghan society.

In Summary

• Book follows the two main characters, Mariam and Laila, as they grow up and grow old in an afghan society that is rocked by internal conflict, political upheaval and two invasions.

• Told in an emotionally passive, balanced yet sympathetic voice, we get to see her as someone who all too often has to live her life under the constraints put on her by men in her life.

The cover of A Thousand Splendid Suns.
The cover of A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Image: COURTESY

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a beautifully written book about feminism, war, religion, culture and the place of women in an Afghan society from the mid-1950s to date (2007, when it was first published).

The book follows the two main characters, Mariam and Laila, as they grow up and grow old in an afghan society that is rocked by internal conflict, political upheaval and two invasions, one by the soviet union and the second by the Americans following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The main theme of 1000 splendid suns is feminism and the place of woman in Afghan society.

The author takes us through the lives of Mariam and Laila, especially Mariam, who is born out of wedlock and the struggles she passes through as she strives to grow up as an orphan.

Told in an emotionally passive, balanced yet sympathetic voice, we get to see her as someone who all too often has to live her life under the constraints put on her by men in her life, from her absentee father Jalil, her husband and society as a whole, especially when the Mujaheddin take over the country after the withdrawal of the USSR army.

The biggest strengths of the book is how it manages to weave into the story-line the tragic, complex history of Afghanistan, while still maintaining to show us the characters, their human faults, strengths and how they cope with the unexpected and expected challenges of life in a country that has witnessed more than its fair share of violence and man-made disaster.

The biggest weakness of the book? Probably how little hope or agency some of the characters seem to have. The tragedy of their lives, their choices and their helplessness.

A Thousand splendid suns is easily the best fiction book I have read in months. It is a love story, to Afghanistan, to women all around the world, it is a feminist book and it is one I would highly recommend to anyone who wishes to understand one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and how ordinary people suffer from war, strife and oppression.

It is a must-read book.