YES! I have been waiting for this book, and finally, after waiting ever so patiently, here it is. (Mailyn, I was not a pretty crier last night…very very ugly).
Hosseini, in this follow up to The Kite Runner, delivers a beautiful story about two women in Afghanistan. The first part of the novel follows the story of Mariam, and illegitimate child of a wealthy Herat man. The second part of the story tells of Laila in Kabul, an educated girl with liberal parents. While these two sections of the novel are good, it is the third section where Hosseini begins to weave his heartrenching story as the lives of these two women intersect in a most unlikely way.
A few times a year I will read a story that is so rapturing, that tugs on my heartstrings so violently, that shakes the core of everything that I know to be true; A Thousand Splendid Suns did all of this for me. While this is not the best written book I’ve read this year, it is the one that has affected me the most. I read a few reviews that mentioned that the story spans too long of time (about 30 years in 370 pages), but I wouldn’t have wanted anything different. My feeling is that what is left out of a book speaks as powerfully sometimes as what is put into the book.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to everyone. In fact, I’m taking it to my Dad’s this afternoon so that he can read it and pass it on. Hosseini knows how to write a powerful story, and I am confident that he will do so again and again. There is so much that I still want to say about this book, but just go–now–to the bookstore/library and read it for yourself.
On another note, I would also like to recommend another book: The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah (a memoir). Shah is a British journalist of Afghan descent; when she is in her late teens/early twenties, she decides to visit the country that her father spoke so lovingly of when she was a child–a country that no longer exists. While she is there, she also filmed the documentary Beneath the Veil (I believe this is a BBC production), which I would also recommend if you can get your hands on it. There are a lot of similarities in these two books, especially in some of the stories that are told. But I think that this goes to show that Hosseini is writing a fiction that is very much a reality. My tears are not for some fictional women who have touched me, but for real women who have sacrificed so much.