Khaled Hosseini had great success with his previous best-seller, The Kite Runner. In a similar vein, A Thousand Splendid Suns shows the fallout that Afghanistan’s violent history has had on individuals, especially its women. Hosseini depicts the lives of Laila and Mariam, and their struggle against society and the Taliban.
They are both married to a womanizing shoemaker, Rasheed, who constantly is abusing them physically and verbally. Initially, Mariam, Rasheed’s first wife, is jealous of Laila, but she soon realizes that she is in desperate need of a friend.
Khaled Hosseini’s purpose is to show the hardships of women in Afghanistan and all they must endure in the household as well as society. At first, when the two women meet, Hosseini conveys the resistance between them, but they realize that there is no way they can survive without a trusted companion. Mariam and Laila can relate to each other through all they experience within the community and with their husband.
Hosseini brings the text to life as he intertwines realistic events. The constant fear of a bomb sinking a house or the Taliban tearing apart a family is prevalent in the story, making it all the more heart-wrenching.
As a reader of both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I believe that Hosseini is successful in communicating the viewpoint of Afghani women during this period (1964-2003). He expresses the gut-wrenching details and the poor and hazardous living conditions of the characters, which reaches you emotionally. And he also describes the mental abuse of the women as they must abide by many rules of their society and their husband. It is astounding what knowledge a reader gains from this, since we do not often hear of the hardships and struggles of Afghani women. We are blind to the religious and cultural diversity in Afghanistan, which affects the lives of so many.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a remarkable story of two women in a society that is unforgiving and unwilling to see Mariam and Laila as equals. Not only does Hosseini tell a story of women trying to survive, but he gives the reader knowledge of a lifestyle that is foreign, yet so real. I would recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns to any reader who has a thirst for knowledge and is looking for an engrossing story.