Reviewed by Sushmita Das, Batch of 2025, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law Mumbai
Hosseini’s first novel, The Kite Runner has definitely set a benchmark and has readers filled with many more expectations for the second one, The Thousand Splendid Suns and after reading it I wanted only one thing: I wanted a real cry. It is one of the books that really motivates you to draw your heart out and roar like a child.
The main storyline seemed to fulfil my conditions. It was organized in Afghanistan from the 1960s to the 1990s, from Soviet occupation to Taliban rule, following the lives of two women in their marriages and in their war-torn country. It takes us forward to domestic violence, the explanations of the war and the openness and the enormous scale of oppression of Afghan women, I am satisfied- yes (even had tears in my eyes).
And so would you but not for the reasons you can expect. The book includes much more than the above.
The novel is divided into two narratives, the first being Mariam when she was nine years old, living on the outskirts of Herat with her grieving mother, expecting a visit once a week from her wealthy father. Called “harami”, an illegitimate child, Mariam faces a lot of discrimination and not only blames her father’s family, but also from her mother herself. Hosseini introduces a naïve child towards whom you’ll feel very sympathetic, and would be overwhelmed by holding the pages. Later in the story, Mariam finds a void in her father’s love and after her mother’s suicide, she is forced to marry a man over 20, and she, only 15 years old.
You would feel your heart torn and shattered into pieces, have tears filled in your eyes. But Hosseini is not finished.
Rasheed is a kind man, though old in his own way and shy, but all things are considered Mariam’s life. Until a miscarriage. And then a few more miscarriages.
You’d see Mariam being tortured again and the domestic violence that she suffers through will make you weep for her again.
Then comes the second story – Laila. An innocent little girl with a sweet boyfriend, a war-torn family and her brothers are stolen away from her. An orphan, saddened by her love, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. The stories of these two wives will make you face the fear of the great power of love in times of despair.
Throughout the novel Hosseini sets out details about the situation in Afghanistan but only then does he participate in the story. However, he assures us that there will be no driving force in the novel – that is the two women’s voice. They both try to make a living, trying to find happiness in the dark. They both have a glimmer of hope in their eyes as they embark on their great journey.
Hosseini’s writing is easy, and that’s all it takes, the difference in the difficult situations of Mariam and Laila.
In the end you will be left not only with tears, but with fire lit up inside. Above all it is a matter of hope and health, the heroism that comes with love and the inevitable conflict that comes with life. Encouragingly outstanding, every man and woman should read this story.