A novel about the story of two women who come from different backgrounds in Afghanistan. Mariam is an illegitimate child, which in that particular culture is frowned upon. Laila is raised in an intellectual friendly household, until war breaks out and the Taliban take over. In this book the author is tells an epic story dealing with gender inequality that developed in Afghanistan as the result of continuous conflict and political instability.
A Thousand Splendid Suns was a very interesting read, which tells a story that is both sad and hopeful. I particularly found it interesting when the author compared life in Afghanistan under Soviet rule with life under Taliban rule. Women are treated more fairly in the Soviet Regime, and are given access to higher education. The Taliban regime treats women as property belonging to the father or husband. Rasheed, the husband to both Mariam and Laila, used tough love to discipline his wives, to state his authority as head of the household, but one could argue that he acted the way he did so he appeared to be conforming to Taliban rules, when in reality he was breaking some i.e. he secretly bought a TV.
The novel is quite upsetting and sad in parts, especially when Mariam and Laila are beaten frequently by Rasheed. Laila being forced to send her daughter to the orphanage to relieve financial pressure on the household was saddening, because Laila loved her daughter a lot even though Rasheed cared little for her.
The novel itself was well written and once I got into it, it was difficult to stop reading it. I find it interesting to read a novel, set in a country with a culture that differs from the culture I am used to. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel that I would recommend to anyone, because it is an eye opener to understanding oneself as a human.
The author wrote this novel to tell the untold story of human life in a war torn Afghanistan, including describing the implications of western interference, both negative and positive. The culture may be different in Afghanistan but the people are real human beings trying to live among the chaos of rocket attacks, rival warlords and the Taliban regime.
To summarise, A Thousand Splendid Suns is an interesting read which deals with the issue of gender inequality in Afghanistan. The book tells a human story that is often hidden amongst the news of war and terror that is reported on the news. Upsetting at times, this book is well written and it certainly has made me want to read more widely.
Rating 5/5 Stars