How Splendid is “A Thousand Splendid Suns”?

By Shivananth Ilayanambi

Spanning decades, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns follows the story of two women as they navigate their lives in Afghanistan under Soviet, Taliban, and finally, no rule.

Mariam is the daughter of a rich businessman and his housemaid. She was born out of wedlock after her father slept with one of his maids. Consequently, Mariam grew up as a secluded child, shielded and kept away from any kind of social interaction, as she was a harami (meaning “bastard” in Farsi, an Afghan language). 

Unlike Mariam, Laila lives a relatively normal childhood. She receives an education and has a supportive father, while her mother is a hypochondriac. She has to go to school, and once she comes home, she has to do all the chores because her mother won’t get out of bed. 

These two women eventually have their lives ripped apart and come together under the same household, creating a sisterly bond with one another and being each other’s solace in those troubling times. This book focuses on the strength of womanhood, and illustrates how women can accomplish anything. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a historical fiction novel about female oppression. It has a lot of mature elements and is definitely not a light read. I had to focus a lot in order to understand the story, but it was definitely worth it. A Thousands Splendid Suns is probably the greatest novel I’ve ever read, so you should pick it up too!

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