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  • Virginie Da Costa

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Updated: Jun 22, 2019

Written by Bruna Monteiro


A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of the most solar novels I’ve read so far. Not only thanks to its name, but especially because of its energy! One cannot help but admire the bravery of these two Afghan woman, who continue to radiate their strength in the middle of a rain of bombs. This story shook me a lot (am I’m not the only one) for many and many reasons, but if I had to choose a few words to describe the resistant, yet desperate atmosphere, it would be : famine, violence, restrictive mores, burqa, humiliation, punishment, but also, strength and determination.


In a few sentences, this second novel by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, who are trying their best to survive in Afghanistan, between 1959 and 2003. Both marry Rachid at age 14, who is 30 years older. Mariam is the first to have to endure the misogynous moods of this unknown husband. From a denying father and an unloving mother, she sees herself humiliated and beaten because she cannot deliver him a son. Eighteen years after her arrival, it is the young Laila who shows up in their lives, rescued by Rachid following the bombing in Kabul. Initially, their relationship is very stormy, but soon we see a friendship growing, specially when Laila gives birth to a girl. They will try to conquer their freedom as true allies, but will they succeed?


" Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam."


The context in which these two PERSONNAGES is very well described by the author. We witness 50 years of war in Afghanistan, with strict rules We witness 50 years of war in Afghanistan, with the strict rules imposed by different regimes, which constantly subject and belittle women. In parallel, all the women of this novel will also show us their amazing strength, that can only keep us thrilled! What women can endure is far beyond our imagination. As much under the communist regime of the Soviet Red Army as under the Taliban regime, along with all the fights they provoked, women had to comply with rules that go beyond any perception of equality or even of human fundamental rights.


"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."


I now think the right word to describe it is heartbreaking. Indeed, he is beautiful, touching, but sad at the same time. A Thousand Splendid Suns involves many themes that are dear to our cause, because it is in no way a reflection of equality, nor even of humanity! I will end this article with an extract from the novel that will make you feel the energy of the thousand splendid suns of the novel :


" Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she'd said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us. "



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