Written in a beautifully simplistic yet emotionally charged manner, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ represents the confusion in the world: love being born of hate, war to create peace, and beauty within horrific moments. This book is simultaneously heartbreaking and full of human hope, making it a truly wonderful book to engage with.
It is perhaps Mariam’s tale which is most haunting: a life filled with tragedy and false meanings, which gains unadulterated love and acceptance towards the climax of the novel. The contrast between her and Laila is incredibly effective in creating a connection with her, in showing how her life has been one controlling force following another. Here is where the simplicity of style allows Hosseini to shine: Mariam’s ordeal is largely inferred, meaning readers have to make this connection with her in order to understand her life, creating that emotional connection which allows the reader to be part of her battles. Mariam, therefore, could be symbolic of Afghanistan over this period: torn apart by wars that aren’t her own, and having to sacrifice so much in order to quell the bloodshed. Subsequently, Laila represents the war for peace: her defiance and fighting spirit against the repression of Rasheed and desire for Tariq represent those forces fighting for peace within their fractured lands, having to go through the horrors of bloodshed in order to restore the equilibrium.
Hosseini’s talent is making his subject accesible: in such a complicated history, he uses his characters to explore the complexities and morals of war, whether any man can be justified in fighting for what they believe is the right way to live. It shows the beauty of belief shattered by the ugliness of corruption; a theme shown through Mariam and Jalid’s relationship, and its devastating affects on the bystander, Nana. Likewise, Rasheed’s treatment of the women is something which reaches out to the reader: how far do we allow things to progress before intervening? It symbolises the relationship between the countries: did the USA interfere too much or too little? Could foreign aid have been better directed and stipulated? It slowly draws out our own political ideas and beliefs, again creating that invaluable connection between the reader, the author, and his creations and connections with life as we know it.
As such, this book is a truly enlightening read: so much is both said and implied that, as a reader, you become so involved with this text that it is difficult to step away; when you do, it is to recover from the sheer power of the messages and emotional gravity of this book. Khalen Hosseini is an inspirational writer in this respect, and his novel is worth every type of investment possible.