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A Thousand Splendid Suns [Hardcover]

Khaled Hosseini
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 22 2007

After more than two years on the bestseller lists and over four million copies in print, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel of enormous contemporary relevance.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

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From Amazon

It's difficult to imagine a harder first act to follow than The Kite Runner: a debut novel by an unknown writer about a country many readers knew little about that has gone on to have over four million copies in print worldwide. But when preview copies of Khaled Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, started circulating at Amazon, readers reacted with a unanimous enthusiasm that few of us could remember seeing before. As special as The Kite Runner was, those readers said, A Thousand Splendid Suns is more so, bringing Hosseini's compassionate storytelling and his sense of personal and national tragedy to a tale of two women that is weighted equally with despair and grave hope.

From Publishers Weekly

Atossa Leoni, who is German-born of Afghan ancestry, was clearly chosen because she can pronounce all the Afghan words—a big plus, but it's the only plus in this bad reading. Dropping her voice on the last word of every sentence, her phrasing is regularly rendered ungrammatical by breaks at the wrong points. Her narrow vocal range makes for a dull and often difficult listening experience. Despite the reader, the book holds the listener thanks to Hosseini's riveting story—an in-depth exploration of Afghan society in the three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban cruelty. He impels us to empathize with and admire those most victimized by Afghan history and culture—women. Mariam, a 15-year-old bastard whose mother commits suicide, is married off to 40-year-old Rasheed, who abuses her brutally, especially after she has several miscarriages. At 60, Rasheed takes in 14-year-old Laila, whose parents were blown up by stray bombs. He soon turns violent with her. Although Laila is united with her childhood beloved, the potential return of the Taliban always shadows their happiness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of the Fathers Are Visited on Everyone March 21 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS tells the wonderful, intensely moving story of how two modern Afghan women overcome the great challenges that have faced women in Afghanistan and rise above their victimization. Khaled Hosseini has succeeded in capturing many important historical and contemporary themes in a way that will make your heart ache again and again. Why will your reaction be so strong? It's because you'll identify closely with the suffering of almost all the characters, a reaction that's very rare to a modern novel.

In Part One, you meet Miriam at age five as she learns that she is a harami (an illegitimate child). Miriam's wealthy father, Jalil, had seduced a housekeeper, Miriam's mother, Nana, six years earlier and now provides for both of them in a remote shack where he can keep a low profile. Despite his concern about his reputation, Jalil adores the attention that Miriam devotes to him. All proceeds in an artificial and harsh way until one day Miriam decides to demand her father's attention. The consequences shape her world for the rest of her life.

In Part Two, the story moves to focus on Laila, who was born to Miriam's acquaintance, Fariba, at the end of Part One. Laila's rearing is almost totally the opposite of Miriam's. Laila is loved by both her parents with whom she lives and has many chances to develop her knowledge and skills. Laila lives in Kabul while Miriam grew up in the countryside outside of Herat. Laila is beautiful while Miriam is plainer. They also grow up in different times: Miriam is old enough to be Laila's mother. Miriam never had a male friend while growing up, while Laila is fascinated by the one-legged Tariq. All is going well for Laila until the war intrudes to send her life off into an unexpected direction.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
When I picked up "A Thousand Splendid Suns," the much anticipated second novel by Khaled Hosseini, I had just devoured "The Kite Runner" in a single day but the day before. Still caught up in the thoughts and emotions engendered by that powerful and exquisite first novel I could imagine thousands of people holding this new book in their hands, wishing and hoping that Hosseini would do it again, but different and better. All things considered, following up on a successful first novel is probably harder than coming up with the original effort and Hosseini could have rested on his laurels in the manner of Harper Lee, but as "A Thousand Splendid Suns" amply proves, this native of Kabul has more stories to tell about the land of Afghanistan.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is the story of two women living in Afghanistan during the last three turbulent decades of that nation's history. In Part One we meet Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of Jalil, one of the wealthiest men in Herat and the owner of a cinema. Jalil has three wives and nine legitimate children, all of whom are strangers to Mariam, while Mariam lives with her mother in the "kolba" that Jalil and his sons built with sun-dried bricks and plastered with mud and straw. Laila is introduced in Part Two, the young daughter of the university educated Babi. Laila's mother is in mourning for the death of the two sons who joined the jihad against the Soviets and were killed. The paths of Mariam and Laila cross but once in these early parts before their lives become irrevocably linked in Part Three.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it Oct. 27 2007
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini reads like an epic, it traces the stories of two women brought together by destiny - Mariam, the illegitimate child of a rich man, is married off at fifteen to a much older man, and suffers a life of suppression and subjugation and made to feel worthless for not being able to produce an heir. Her life takes an interesting turn years later when a young 14-year-old girl, Laila is brought into her household and made wife number two. The two women forge a bond of sisterhood, united against their oppressor/husband. I will not give too much of the plot away, but suffice to say that not only do we get to read about these two character's amazing and heartbreaking journey through the cruel and oppressive male-dominated world they live in, but we also get a lesson in Afghanistan's history prior to and later during the Soviet Occupation in the 1980s to the Taliban rule where women are reduced to the ranks of chattel ,and deemed mere breeding mares and servants of men. This is a searing portrait of the plight of women in Afghanistan, and not only does it give voice to the victims of male oppression and harsh cultural traditions, but it stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit with its unwavering hope. Would also recommend the novel DELANO for another great read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as good July 20 2007
The Kite Runner was for me an amazing read. I was fascinated by the story and the characters, and moved by it, absolutely. THIS novel, although I enjoyed it as well, didn't reach within me so much, even though it was about women not men, and I am a woman. Although I still thought it was a great story, I didn't bond with the characters as much as those in the Kite Runner. Something was missing. Perhaps the author being a male,is better able to convey the feelings and emotions of his male characters in his first book in a more believable way, than those of the women in "Suns"
That is not to say it wasn't a great and worthwhile read, and I would recommend it highly to get an insight into the life of Afghani women. I finished feeling very grateful to have been born when, where and who I was...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The book was really interesting because you get to see ...
The book was really interesting because you get to see the perspective of two different woman in a culture I was not familiar with. Read more
Published 1 month ago by mirela
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by sammy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thousand Splendid Suns.
This book was very well written. Kept you turning the pages. Couldn't put it down. Awesome read. This book lets you see how women live in the worst relationships.
Published 2 months ago by francien yeast
5.0 out of 5 stars he knows what he's writing
a heart wrenching story that can move you deeply! I believe Khalid Hosseini has a gift of story telling... a must read!
Published 3 months ago by Samreen Ahsan
5.0 out of 5 stars better than the Kite Runner
I simple LOVED this book. It is definitely a page turner. I read it in a couple of evenings and could not wait until I had a couple minutes to go back to it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chantal Soucy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The delivery was as promised. The book in excellent shape. I haven't read the book yet but my sister did and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading it.
Published 3 months ago by Gail Boucher
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
I found this book to provide insight and understanding into the Moslum culture. The divisions that exist among the many factions of Islam. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Geri Wall
3.0 out of 5 stars Its not The Kite Runner!
The authors second 2nd try was just that a try!
Not even close the Kite Runner.
Im sorry for the bad review but its justified.
Published 5 months ago by Scott Milburn
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and captivating story
Vivid imagery, exceptional character development and a excellent plot line make this a must-read. Khaled Hosseini never ceases to amaze me. highly recommended book!
Published 8 months ago by Shawna Hoffman
5.0 out of 5 stars good tale of a bond between women
I would recommend this to anyone, and in particular for those who are interested in learning The Afghan history of the past 30 years.
Published 10 months ago by Kari
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