To start off, I must say that I am glad no character in this book had to go to America to make it a complete, good story.
Author; Khaled Hosseini (Afghan American)
Genre; Fiction Novel
Publisher and Year of Publication; RiverHead Books. May 22, 2007
My Copy; Bloomsbury
Number of Pages;384
Copies Sold; More than 38 million
Other Titles; The Kite Runner, And The Mountains Echoed.
Ok so, this was a great book of course. Khaled Hosseini is a master story teller and he’s in fact on my favourite Author’s list, although I must say that the list is quite long. Anyway this book is sorrowful, haunting. Before I read it, I had been warned that I would need a bucket and tissue to collect my tears, so I think I braced myself. I really did. But then, towards the end, I couldn’t escape. It hit me, hard. And all the way to the end, I swallowed lumps in my throat.
It is a history of two women, Mariam and Laila, born a generation apart, who experienced life in the core of war torn Afghanistan, enduring loss, shock, abuse and all of it, first as enemies, then sisters, and finally mother and daughter.
In this book, I understood to better depths the strength of a woman, the toughness of her spirit, what love can or cannot make her do especially for her family, her beauty, buried under rubbles of war and violence but glittering still.
Set in the city of Kabul, which I must say Khaled thoroughly draws us into, I literally was transported into the roads and cinema and shops. The story title is gotten from a 17th century poem about the once beautiful city which Khaled now writes in hope, that women, the neglected minority are important to help it rise from it’s ruins.
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs and the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”
The book is written in four parts, one part for each major character Mariam and Laila, the third for their friendship and the last a tie up of sorts, which happens to be the only part written in present tense.
I learnt a few Farsi/Arabic words too, as the author used them to drive home his description which I enjoyed a lot because to be honest, some things are better said in the language in which they are set in.
In this book, there is pregnancy, there is miscarriage, there is birth, there is murder, there is suicide, there is injustice, there is violence, loss, death, wounds, and scars that probably never heal, but there is love. Absolute sacrificial love that I dare say only a woman’s heart is capable of giving. Unfortunately, the struggle that women still have to go through while being able to give this love is still beyond me, especially in parts of the world like Afghanistan.
I thought that life was horribly unkind to Mariam, one of the major characters, and as I read I kept hoping that people didn’t have to live in such trauma all the days of their lives. There was literally no light at the end of the tunnel for this woman. Non. Sigh…
It made me realise that I truly cannot imagine what it would be like to live in the same circumstances and manner that the women in this book lived.
This was a good read. Although to be quite honest, I think that his first book “THE KITE RUNNER” was a better read for me. Please note that this doesn’t mean that the story was better told. Mr Hosseini is a master story teller, I’m just saying the first one got me more.
See some lines from the book that resonated with me below;
* “A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed. It won’t stretch to make room for you.
* “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.”
When I came across these two sentences above, made by the same character to her daughter, it stung. I thought it was too much, to deep, too hurtful, but unfortunately, throughout the book, the speaker was right. It saddened me how so many women could suffer the same miserable luck to know such dreadful men.
*Some things I can teach you, some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you just have to see and feel.
*And that, …is the story of our country, one invasion after another…Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we’re like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.
*Tariq tucked the gun into the waist of his denims. Then he said a thing both lovely and terrible. “For you,” he said. “I’d kill with it for you, Laila.”
*Love was a damaging mistake and its accomplice,hope, a treacherous illusion.
*In the coming days and weeks, Laila would scramble frantically to commit it all to memory, what happened next. Like an art lover running out of a burning museum, she would grab whatever she could–a look, a whisper, a moan–to salvage from perishing to preserve. But time is the most unforgiving of fires, and she couldn’t, in the end, save it all.
*Regret… when it comes to you, I have oceans of it.
*Give sustenance, Allah, Give sustenance to me. (This prayer was simple, but if you have read the book, you’ll understand the sorrow of it)
*Joseph shall return to Canaan, grieve not, Hovels shall turn to rose gardens, grieve not. If a flood should arrive, to drown all that’s alive,
Noah is your guide in the typhoon’s eye, grieve not.
*She is the noor of my eyes and the sultan of my heart.
*This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.