Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns
The second novel from the author of "The Kite Runner", Khaled Hosseini got its title from a poem about Kabul. It was written by Saib-e Tabrizi back in the 17th century.

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

I had some time to actually relax a bit so I finally finished reading this rather poignant novel. I have always been fascinated with novels set in exotic places like Afghanistan, Turkey or some remote places I cannot spell. My bedside table is gathering dust with books yet to be opened and explored as I lose myself in its pages.

I admit this novel was a difficult and painful narrative to absorb. The rampant domestic violence, the anguish experienced by the 3 women characters as well as the sorrowful existence they endured was heartbreaking. But there were also some happy thoughts experienced by the characters like for example when the entire country was gripped by "Titanic" fever. Such simple joys for people who don't really know any better was uplifting to read. It is set amidst an intense background of a country ravished by the greed of colonizers and its own power hungry citizens, it was riveting, gripping and really incredible. I say incredible because as I read it in the comforts of my cozy little room, I cannot imagine a world far beyond the horizon where such struggling hardships are endured on a daily basis in this day and age. A period where modern electronic gadgets and endless politicking invades our senses. While far away in a forgotten land such basic services like electricity, water and food supplies are scarce and its citizens are subject to a steady stream of violence and anarchy. Of course, I know that it is only fiction yet I am certain this sort of existence does exist, unfortunately.

Written with easy to comprehend words, Khaled Hosseini's account of the lives of Mariam, Laila and Aziza is very compelling. 3 women characters who you can't help but admire and salute for their strength despite their vanquished spirits. It is a fascinating read. I really recommend it, just be sure you are stoic enough to tune out really disturbing situations. But then we are only human and you can't help but be affected by human tragedy even if it only unfolds within the pages of a haunting novel.

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