Those who have read 'The Kite Runner' will agree with me on the exceptional storytelling abilities of Khaled Hosseini. In 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' Hosseini does a role reversal. This time it's a female protogonist, rather two of them. If 'The Kite Runner' was about finding peace outside Afghanistan, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is all about finding hope in a war ravaged country.
The beauty of Hosseini's writing lies in his characters. Although both his books are different, still their characters are a lot similar. They all look real! The Amir of 'The Kite Runner' is now Laila and Hasan's place is taken over by Maryam. The characters, like in the previous book, show their inner strength in difficult times. And it's this style of story writing which sets Hosseini apart from the league.
As I started reading the novel I thought 'The Kite Runner' was better. It's only when the narrative starts to unfold, in the typical 'Hosseini' way, that you realise it's another classic in the making. Set against the backdrop of a country constantly at war (first the war-lords against the Soviets and then against each other), it revolves around the lives of two women. How the constantly changing political situation brings both uncertainty and hope in their lives. And how two ordinary women display exemplary courage is what it's all about. Anything more and I'm spilling the beans here.
There are times when you feel like giving reading a break, so powerful are the emotions generated by the novel. I did shed a few tears during 'The Kite Runner' and 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' was no exception either. The author has left no stone unturned in highlighting the plight of women in a Taliban governed Afghanistan.
You could actually feel the pain and suffering that Laila and Maryam go through, both, during the times of the Soviets and when Taliban took over. But inspite of all the difficulties around there's always an undercurrent of hope in Hosseini's writing, and it shows in his charaters. That's something you can always expect from an Afghan!
Khaled Hosseini's new book is an ode to the undying spirit of the people of Afghanistan in general and women in particular. This one too, like its predecessor, is not going off the shelf any time soon.