What if you were told to marry a man you never met? What if you were told to be silent, that your opinion didn’t matter? What if you spoke up in an effort to defend yourself but were severely punished?
While people in today’s society pay lipservice to the idea that the oppression of women is taboo , there are still places where it’s allowed and even encouraged. Places where women are viewed as property to men, unable to live their existence without hiding themselves in public, as if they are invisible. This perspective is beautifully rendered within Khaled Hosseini’s Novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Khaled Hosseini is a New York Times best selling author who has written three novels: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and his latest, And the Mountains Echoed. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and many of his works reflect his homeland country before and after the Soviet invasion of 1979, as well as the Afghan civil war and the uprising of the Taliban.
His work is inspired by a peaceful upbringing in Kabul before the Soviet invasion. It’s << avoid pronouns Hosseini’s second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, published in 2007, that ties in an era of peace, as well as an era of turmoil.
The story tells the life of two girls growing up and becoming women: the small joys, the hardships, and the fear of a rapidly changing country. The story is told in four parts. Each part is told from vastly different perspectives until the two girl’s stories ultimately climax into one.
The book sheds light on women’s struggles, giving an important perspective on issues surrounding women in Middle Eastern countries. Telling the story from the point of view of women directly involved in Afghani society helps the reader imagine living as one of the characters.
Hosseini’s novel begins by telling the story of Mariam, a girl who was born out of wedlock and as such, is forced to live in a tiny shack with her mother. After a series of unfortunate events, Mariam is forced to wed a man almost 30 years her senior. The book follows her life as she grows up with the knowledge that she has always been unwanted.
The second story told within the novel is that of Laila, a girl born during the Soviet invasion attempting to live a pleasant yet unremarkable life with her family while her country struggles against a civil war that is rapidly consuming civilian life.
These two stories become intertwined due to a complicated series of events that leave the women struggling to find their place within a society dominated by men.
The contrast between characters is something Hosseini exemplifies within the novel. Because of their different upbringings, each of these two women reacts completely different to their surroundings. Everything from how they act, talk, show respect is completely opposite, which also renders the type of punishment they each receive.
A Thousand Splendid Suns presents beautifully and will leave a lasting impact on anyone who chooses to read it. It’s a fascinating, educational and emotional read. Hosseini’s ability to portray incredibly difficult yet, real life issues through an accurate depiction is quite remarkable. The novel is a must read for those looking to analyse and review women’s history within the Middle East.