Once you have written “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, it becomes difficult to match up to the expectations. The author Khaled Hosseini has tried it with “And the mountains echoed” and he had some success with it as well. The main story of brother Abdullah and sister Pari is very engaging and moving and just that storyline would have made it a great book. But the author got carried away with multiple other stories and I felt that he was not able to tie them together in the end.
Abdullah is ten and Pari is three years old when their father sells Pari to a childless and wealthy couple in Kabul. They do not meet again for next fifty years and their lives take different turns through the turmoil going on in Afghanistan and across the world. Eventually they meet in America but by that time Abdullah is sick and is unable to recognise her. There are other stories that run at the same time of loosely connected characters. The turmoil affects them all though in different ways. The house of Pari’s foster parents is witness to changing times and its own fortunes change along with it.
The narrative here goes back and forth and we look at story through the first person account of different characters. I have liked that kind of style of story writing but in this book it gets too broad and confusing at times. At the same time the book does manage to engage you with main characters and their lives. Even though the story takes place primarily in Afghanistan, it does cover Pari’s life in Paris in detail and provides a stark contrast between two different cultures.
Irrespective of how we find the book, the common people in war damaged regions keep on suffering and unfortunately we keep on creating more such regions with each passing year.
I had read this book immediately after “The Kite Runner” but somehow did not write about it till now. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is the second book written by the same author Khaled Hosseini. This book did not become as famous as the kite runner but I think this was much more complex and real in its presentation. That was also the reason that I was finding it difficult to write about this book.
The story in this book is about two women who are growing up in Afghanistan during the difficult years filled with communism, war and religious fundamentalism. These two women though coming from different circumstances and families end up marrying the same person. Initially they have enmity towards each other but slowly they start to like each other. In the end the elder woman end up killing her husband for being abusive towards them and takes up the blame and saves the younger woman.
The story opens up the life of women in war-torn country and how their life could go from one extreme to another due to the circumstances around them. More than that, it is the interplay of emotions between the two women. On one hand they are fighting for the love and security from the same person, their husband, but then they are united against his tyranny. When we read about the lives of these people, we really feel blessed with the security and peace of our own environment. It is true that more men die in wars on the front but it is equally true that women and children pay a very heavy price that is mostly invisible but much more horrifying.
I had read this book “The Kite Runner” some time back but I was hesitating to write about it here even though I liked the book. I should not say I liked the book since I felt really bad reading this story of common people who are devastated by politics and war. In this case liking the book would mean that the author Khaled Hosseini has done a great job of putting the story in such a way that you immediately empathize with the characters.
The story is written in first person narrative and is about two young friends Amir and Hassan living in Kabul before soviet invasion, an era that is mentioned as peaceful and prosperous. Amir, the protagonist ends up in a situation where he acts cowardly and is unable to save his friend from atrocities of bullies. He also ends up accusing his friend of stealing so that he goes away from his house. Times change and Afghanistan sees soviet invasion and then rise of Taliban. Amir, leaves for US with his father and settles down but after many years returns back to Kabul to save son of his friend.
The book is exceptional in its detailing and the author manages to create a picture of Kabul in reader’s mind. I really felt like enjoying kite flying and then I wanted to do something to help Amir and Hassan who became victim of their circumstances. Even though the story unfolds in the political backdrop of changing events in Afghanistan, the author has tried to keep the narrative focused on individuals and the hardships that they faced rather than getting into political discourse. It is a grim reminder to all of us that it is the common people who end up suffering the most in the fight for supremacy of ideals.
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