Sunday, 23 February 2014

Book Review | Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns

 Sat on a sun lounger with a view of the Red Sea directly opposite me, I was so engrossed in Khaled Hosseini's second novel 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' that I ignored the beach, the pool and precious sun tanning time. I finished this book in two days which is not surprising because I didn't put it down for hours on end! I'm going to try and explain the excellent success Hosseini has created but I can't stress enough how brilliant it is and how you should definitely, 100%, must, absolutely read this story. 
Set in a small town called Kabul in Afghanistan, the novel tells a tale of two helpless women who are subjugated by a dominant male figure in a patriarchal society. It is so cleverly written because as readers, we are introduced to a young girl called Mariam at the very beginning of the novel who grows into an adult as we continue to read on. 
Hosseini visited Afghanistan and became aware of the tragedies and discrimination women were suffering from due to the masculine hegemony forced upon society by the Taliban. This ultimately motivated Khaled Hosseini to write a narrative that focuses on two Afghan women. Clothing is used significantly to present the oppression of women through patriarchy, societal class and the law. This novel revolves around the plight of women and the burqa is used as a symbol of both the repressive nature of patiarchy under Sharia law and the suffocating effects of compliance. 
Hosseini challenges patriarchy and its power to control women, to a certain extent presenting men as the root and driving force behind the oppression of women. Hosseini does not criticise Afghanistan itself but does condemn the way women are treated. Stated in an interview, Hosseini said:
 'As an Afghan I would like readers to walk away with a sense of empathy for Afghans, and more specifically, Afghan women, on whom the effects of war and extremism have been devastating'.1

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