Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns

There are so many books, and so little time to read. Maybe that’s why it’s quite difficult to read more than one book by the same author (unless you’re a die-hard fan of the writer). Avid readers usually read the most well-known book by an author. In Khaled Hosseini’s case, it has to be The Kite Runner, the book that shot him to fame. Although my initial opinion of The Kite Runner was quite positive, looking back at the story and his style, I don’t think it was as great as I might have thought. What I did remember was that the book was really easy to read (a luxury one needs to indulge in every once in a while). And I knew that his second book would be equally simple as a book. I was proved right and wrong at the same time.

As a story and as a narrative, A Thousand Splendid Suns was easy enough to follow. Hosseini’s style was quite similar to his first novel, although the historical upheavals of Afghanistan and its effect on poor families are much more detailed and nuanced. Hosseini’s interest in the lives of two young girls and their familial situation reminded me a lot of the films of Majid Majidi. Majidi’s films are based in Iran, and although have a tinge of sadness, are always somehow rooted in hope and joy.

Hope was a huge part of Splendid Suns too, however, I soon got tired of how depressing the story was. It’s hard enough to read about a husband abusing his teenage wife; it gets really frustrating when he marries another teenager and abuses her too. There was too much violence, inside and outside their homes. There was hope, but one knew that you had to wait for it.Without giving too much away, I was bothered by the fact that the women in the story had to depend on another man to finally find vindication and freedom. I was annoyed by the fact that one character had so much power over the female protagonists. And when the protagonists finally break loose from him, it’s too little, too late. Or so it seemed to me. The novel dragged a little towards the end, and much of what happened was quite expected.

Over all, Hoesseini’s second work elicited a reaction that one often has when you read an author’s second work. It rarely stands up to the high expectations set by the first work, and yet is endearing to you because you’re familiar with the author’s style and it’s fun to read the similar patterns. I’d still recommend one read The Kite Runner and only read Splendid Suns if you’re looking for a quick yet interesting read.

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4 Responses to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns

  1. The Juicer says:

    I struggled with the idea of reading this book for quite a while. Although I had really enjoyed the plot in The Kite Runner, and I admit, there were some wonderful moments of writing in that book, I did not really enjoy the writing style on a whole.

    Maybe that’s not the correct way to put it, more accurately, I did not think much of the writing style. The plot moved me along. If it were you, I know you’d articulate it much better:)

    So, finally, the dilemma of giving the author another chance, “May be when I read the next one, I will get used to his style and enjoy it more” kept playing in my head.
    Finally, I decided not to read A Thousand Splendid Suns! Why? Too little time- too many books to read. And going by your description, I am glad I did!

    Interesting process this, when we decide whether to read the 2nd book or not.

  2. sampada says:

    Shipra, I’m glad you identified with the sentiments of reading an author’s second book. While I was writing this post, I didn’t know if I was expressing myself well enough.

    One of the things that I noticed about Hosseini (and did not quite appreciate) was his obsession with melodrama, and I think he tries a little too hard to tug at the strings of your heart. With Kite Runner, the story was just so different that I didn’t mind it; but with Splendid Suns, it seemed overdone. I don’t think you’re missing out on anything by not reading the book 🙂

  3. The Juicer says:

    There you go- you have said it! He is always ‘trying’ to ‘tug at your heart’ and that realization really irritated me. See- I told you, you’d articulate better 🙂

    Have read a lot of drama, but it needs to feel genuine and not overly done. Mr Hosseini got the world raving, but not me (or you either! yippiee!).

  4. Ad-it-i says:

    well.. somewhere i agree with whthever comments have been said here n somewhere i dont agree with it…

    For the matter of fact … yes hossieni loves melodrama..!!! but then i feel to express domestic violence, you really cannot just mention that oh he beat her and her eye turned blue… the reader might feel oh ohk.. so what .. it happenes in so many hindi films…!!! But a hard impact is necessary to show the level of violence….else how r u gonna feel it..!!!

    but then.. i agree that his melodrama stretches a bit far…

    there is one more book Samira n samir by siba shakib… that also highlights life of a girl in afganistan.. though it doesnt hav domestic abuse it has pretty bold subject to take away from afganistan…!!! n yes very controlled writing..!!! no melodrama… i feel u might like it…

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