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From the Streets of Kabul…

October 16, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Splendid Indeed!

Splendid Indeed! I would like to use all those hackneyed expressions about Hosseini which usually appear on the cover page of a bookseller. Excellent! Suspenseful! Unforgettable! Gripping! Heartbreaking! I would be honest in using all of them and still it wouldn’t be enough! Yes! Hosseini is that good!

Since, The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter series I haven’t read a more gripping book. A Thousand Splendid Suns has everything you may want in a book. I won’t go into the details of the story. It tells stories of two Afghan women and the traumas they have to bear under the Islamic regime of the Taliban.

Hosseini is indeed a master storyteller and you get hooked to it. He is so intensely graphic that you see every little movement described in the book, and listen to every wind rustling; every sigh falling.

He moves our deepest emotions and we get carried. We laugh with the characters; we feel their pain; we look at Afghanistan the way Afghans do.

A Street Bazaar in Kabul
A Street Bazaar in Kabul

The narrative is very authentic. Hosseini knows about the place he is talking about. He knows his Afghanistan, very unlike the Booker winner Adiga, who knows next to nothing about India. He is also clear about his content and has no tolerance for Islamic fundamentalism. A Thousand Splendid Suns is also not politically motivated like, A Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.

The havoc Taliban brought upon Afghanistan is vividly portrayed. He does not ignore its tragedy for the sake of being politically correct. The inhumanity of Taliban and all its supporters, the barbarity of Islamic fundamentalism and the brunt women have to bear under Islam is truthfully portrayed.

The women of Afghanistan
The women of Afghanistan

He does not forget to pay a tribute to the destroyed statues of Bamiyan. He does not express joy over 9/11, like Hamid does in A Reluctant Fundamentalist. He does not shun the truth.

His style is pleasantly accessible and familiar. He suffers from no –ism and nothing of post-modern claptrap enters into Hosseini’s narrative. If the First World War jilted European psyche, making their poets and writers confused, the Afghanistan War has made Hosseini even more definite in his narrative, clearer in his vision. Some call him, an ‘old fashioned writer’. I love him for it. He is a little melodramatic and uses some standard attention engaging techniques of novelists and thriller writers, something which may throw him out of the mainstream of standard literature, but looking at the crap ‘mainstream’ literature is producing these days, it is better not to be included in it.

Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini

Not since reading Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie, have I wept over a book. Russia and England were two places which had become alive in my imagination through literature. I now add Afghanistan to that list.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Abhishek Singhal permalink
    October 20, 2009 10:42 AM

    Its a good omen that Muslims have started breaking ground in literature also. Till now only westerners have labored hard to expose Islamic fundamentalism . Works like these can be of great help to Europeans especially France and Sweden where rising Muslim population is threatening to impose Sharia Law .

    Authors like Pamuk , Housseni etc. are doing a great help to Muslim as well as non – Mulsim community

  2. January 2, 2010 2:53 PM

    I have read this book and was held in that hangover for a week.Indian muslim women must read this to identify the value of their freedom in our country.And of course, life is meaningless without love and peace.

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