A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. It is his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. Mariam is an illegitimate child, and suffers from both the stigma surrounding her birth along with the abuse she faces throughout her marriage. Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam’s husband.
Hosseini has remarked that he regards the novel as a “mother-daughter story” in contrast to The Kite Runner, which he considers a “father-son story”. It continues some of the themes used in his previous work, such as the familial aspects, but focuses primarily on female characters and their roles in Afghan society.
A Thousand Splendid Suns was released on May 22, 2007, and received favorable prepublication reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, becoming a number one New York Times bestseller for fifteen weeks following its release. During its first week on the market, it sold over one million copies. Columbia Pictures purchased film rights in 2007 and confirmed intentions to create a movie adaption of the book.
After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.
Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul–they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.
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.com, 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.
We wanted to spread the word on the book as widely, and as soon, as we could. See below for an exclusive excerpt from A Thousand Splendid Suns and early reviews of the book from some of our top customer reviewers. – The Editors
Joanna Daneman: “His style is deceptively simple and clear, the characters drawn deftly and swiftly, his themes elemental and huge. This is a brilliant writer and I look forward to more of his work.” Read Joanna Daneman’s review
Seth J. Frantzman: “Khaled Hosseini has done it again with ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’, presenting a new, dashing and dark tale of two generations of women trapped in a loveless marriage, bracketed by great events.” Read Seth J. Frantzman’s review
Donald Mitchell: “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.” Read Donald Mitchell’s review
Lawrance M. Bernabo: “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.” Read Lawrance M. Bernabo’s review
Amanda Richards: “There are parts of this book that will have grown men surreptitiously blotting the tears that are on the verge of overflowing their ducts, and by the time you get to the middle, you won’t be able to put it down. Hosseini’s simple but richly descriptive prose makes for an engrossing read, and in my opinion, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is among the best I have ever read. This is definitely not one to be missed.” Read Amanda Richards’s review
N. Durham: “All that being said, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a bit more enjoyable than Hosseini’s previous “The Kite Runner”, and once again he manages to give we readers another glimpse of a world that we know little about but frequently condemn and discard. However, if you were one of the many that for some reason absolutely loved “The Kite Runner”, chances are that you’ll love this as well.” Read N. Durham’s review
John Kwok: “Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a genuine instant literary classic, and one destined to be remembered as one of 2007’s best novels. It should be compared favorably to such legendary Russian novels like “War and Peace” and “Doctor Zhivago”.” Read John Kwok’s review
Thomas Duff: “Normally I’m more of an action-adventure type reader when it comes to novels and recreational reading. But I was given the chance to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner), so I decided to try something out of my normal genre. I am *so* glad I did. This is a stunning and moving novel of life and love in Afghanistan over a 30 year period.” Read Thomas Duff’s review
Charles Ashbacher: “This book manages to simultaneously capture the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years and how women are treated in conservative Islamic societies…. In many ways it is a sad book, your heart goes out to these two women in their hopeless struggle to have a decent life with a brutal man in an unforgiving, intolerant society.” Read Charles Ashbacher’s review
W. Boudville: “Hosseini presents a piognant view into the recent tortured decades of the Afghan experience. From the 1970s, under a king, to the Soviet takeover, to the years of resistance. And then the rise and fall of the Taliban. An American reader will recognise many of the main political events. But to many Americans, Afghanistan and its peoples and religion remain an opaque and troubling mystery.” Read W. Boudville’s review
Mark Baker: “I tend to read plot heavy books, so this character study was a definite change of pace for me. I found the first half slow going at times, mainly because I knew where the story was going. Once I got into the second half, things really picked up. The ending was very bittersweet. I couldn’t think of a better way to end it.” Read Mark Baker’s review
Grady Harp: “Hosseini takes us behind those walls for forty some years of Afghanistan’s bloody history and while he does not spare us any of the descriptions of the terror that continues to besiege that country, he does offer us a story that speaks so tenderly about the fragile beauty of love and devotion and lasting impression people make on people.” Read Grady Harp’s review
Robert P. Beveridge: “When I was actively reading it, the pages kept turning, and more than once I found myself foregoing food or sleep temporarily to get in just one more chapter. When I had put it down, however, I felt no particular compulsion to pick it back up again. It’s a good book, and a relatively well-written one, but it’s not a great book. Enjoyable without leaving a lasting impression.” Read Robert P. Beveridge’s review
B. Marold: “While the events in Afghanistan and the wider world create a familiar framework for the stories of these two women, it is nothing more than a framework. The warp and weft of everyday life, and the interaction of the two women and their close relatives is the heartbeat of the story.” Read B. Marold’s review
Daniel Jolley: “Khaled Hosseini has written a majestic, sweeping, emotionally powerful story that provides the reader with a most telling window into Afghan society over the past thirty-odd years. It’s also a moving story of friendship and sacrifice, giving Western readers a rare glimpse into the suffering and mistreatment of Afghan women that began long before the Taliban came to power.” Read Daniel Jolley’s review
About the Author
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in thirty-eight countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in northern California.