Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

A very good book. Pick your copy today.

The title of the book has nothing to do with the story (not even remotely)! never mind….

The experience of reading this is not very different from that of reading Kite Runner. Melancholy followed by relief followed by more melancholy and then relief …and it goes on…..
There are two protagonists just like Kite Runner but both women. (Kite Runner had both male protagonists)
One of the protagonists has a happy ending while the other one meets with tragedy. The story is set in the same background and the same period. Afghanistan after 1960. The Soviets, the Mujahideens, the Taliban and September 11th. As I said before, there are many similarities between the two works of this author.

While the story is definitely gripping, in some places it is very rushed. Be it titillation, be it fulfillment, be it melancholy or be it ecstasy, the experience of the emotion does not reach a crest or a trough but abruptly changes direction. There would have been much more to relish if the author had dwelled upon certain moments for a little longer.

The climax (and many of the important events) is presented in installments; subsequent installments brought to you with descriptions of unrelated, unnecessary details of trivia in between.
Like….the killing of a villain. The woman strikes him with an axe with all her hold your breath and read ahead..... the very next line talks about the plaster on the wall peeling off to reveal shapes of various countries….the dirty ceiling fan… and then the next chapter.... the villain is lying in a pool of blood. God! You find yourself shifting your attention from this to that ….. so abruptly….wonder what benefits people see in choosing such a style of writing…..

For me who has a perpetual hunger for “some more English”, this book had some good to offer. Check out the expressions.

“Superstitions were a woman’s preoccupation”

“Knead the dough with the heel of your hand”
(I didn’t even know that part was called the heel of the hand. I would have been so clumsy at expressing the same “knead with the base of your palm” or some imperfect phrase like that.

“Straps of his sandals flapped back and forth as he walked”
“She tightened the drawstring through the waistband of her trousers”
(I would have stammered and stuttered or used some Hindi word)

“Plates crusted with the outline of last night’s meals”
“People looking for gossip fodder”
“She finger-combed her hair quickly”

The intent is so perfectly and meticulously expressed! I could not help noting them all down. Need to start using them now.

I wonder what the next work of the author will be like….. It will be difficult to read more of Mujahedeen or Taliban…. Will not mind more Afghanistan though with happier and different stories……


Anupama Kondayya said...

Hi Sowmya, please send me your gmail/email id at the earliest so that I can add you to the writers blend. Thanks...

Anupama Kondayya said...

You can mail your ID to That is the official writers blend ID...