Recently, I came to know that this girl I've known for nearly 3 years suffers physical abuse at home. Needless to say, I was shocked beyond words. Reading Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" brought back the same questions - why do women put up with domestic violence? why are their men such stupid beasts? why does society tolerate, or in some cases, encourage the repression of women?
Khaled Hosseini's over-simplified book does not aim to answer any of the above. Instead, the author proceeds to milk the premise of mistreated women in Afghanistan to fill his coffers with royalty payments. Having read The Kite Runner, it was easy to anticipate the narrative in Suns - Hosseini's repertoire is quite limited. At no point in the misery laden lives of Miriam and Laila could I connect with the characters. It is easy to sympathize, but something made me stop short of truly caring about these battered women and their plight. Still, the horror of living in a country where there is no way out is staggering just to think about. When Laila is about to deliver her second baby, the doctor performs a c-section without anesthesia, under constant fear that some Talib might find out that she's taken off her hijab in order to see better while she's operating. For the sake of the Afghan women, I hope Hosseini's just exaggerating.
One thing the Hosseini does well (as he did in The Kite Runner) is bring out the rather violent and murky history of Afghanistan. Living in a country like India, which had no single ruler till the British came along, I sometimes wonder if we're meant to be a single nation. Afghanistan, by Hosseini's account clearly isn't. There are too many factions, too much aggression in these people to be a peaceful unified country. But then, that would be true of all human nature wouldn't it?
Verdict - Average. Hosseini will have to come up with something really good to make me read him again.