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A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

Today the novel seems to be enjoying a Renaissance. Modern fiction has depth, reach and originality of thought. Much of the best literature has come of terrible and prolonged suffering. From the trek out of Poland to escape the Russian army, from Jackson Mississippi, from China, from divided India, from the Lebanon, from the Caribbean, and from Bhopal has come an avalanche of words, stories, laughter and tears. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is from Afghanistan: the author of THE KITE RUNNER has written the finest novel I have read for many years.

The story is about Mariam, the bastard child of a suicidal mother. She is an acute embarrassment to her father, who marries her off when she is only fifteen to a forty-five-year-old Pashtu widower, Rasheed, whose poverty lay in his mind as much as his hovel. After several miscarriages and many beatings, she is made to tolerate and serve Rasheed's new child-wife, Laila, orphan of the Taliban battle for Kabul. Drawn together by starvation, brutality and fear, the two women become friends, and their love for one another helps them endure, even unto death. But it is not a tale of woe by any means.

A natural and very talented storyteller, Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, but has left the bombs and the gunfire of Afghanistan and now lives in California. His first novel, THE KITE RUNNER, quickly became a best seller, and was widely acclaimed. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is named for a poem, and the book is dedicated "to Haris and Farah...and the women of Afghanistan". Written with passion, knowledge and understanding, it is a treasure to share and to recommend and an unforgettable joy to read.

Review by the Downs Bookgroup

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