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.