A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)

During our February 2009 meeting we discussed the following book selected by Ron Powers:

Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Penguin Group, 2007.


About Ron Boothe

I am a Professor Emeritus at Emory University, currently living in Tacoma Washington USA.
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One Response to A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)

  1. Roger says:

    Notes on A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
    Please excuse mixed metaphors or any other writing mistakes that are common to my notes.

    My first impression was that A Thousand Splendid Suns was about to be a stereotypical novel of Muslim mistreatment of women with the servant and daughter(s) as victims of the religion and patriarchal culture enforced by the jealousy of the legal wives and the community(ies) or tribes.

    I would opine that a major theme (narrative) is the power of learning as goal and as guardian against withering away of hope rooted in consistent maltreatment. The introduction of the holy men instructing poetry to Mariam that is imbedded into the territorial history, and later Babi the father-teacher of Laila, expanded the learning into a nuanced paean to the power of learning. Babi introduces the more foreign ideas of Buddhism. A consideration for wider knowledge along with the orphanage’s protection and education of Aziza and finally the restoration of the same orphanage showed the continuity of the search for education and maybe truth within what many believe is a trashed culture.

    The resilience to the co-protagonists Mariam and Laila is a testament to many women in all cultures that are abused yet persistently retain some identity and ability to empathize with someone who is a competitor for food and protection. (Sisterhood or mutuality of victims?)

    The desire to go home (I would define as the good memories of most people) of Mariam and Laila is another thread that is universal and the barriers to do so are somewhat self-imposed, like when Mariam refuses to leave her house in Kabul to talk to her long estranged father. Also, Laila desires to return to Kabul from Pakistan, with a self imposed circuitous journey to capture the sense of Mariam’s home ( the internalization of the memory Mariam, i.e. love) and relationship to her father and the sparse surrounding of harami’s kolba. This visit energized by love allows her to bring Mariam full cycle back to Kabul and to complete life as one worth living. For Laila it is translated into the service that she and Tariq do at the school-orphanage that is part of Aziza’s home and personal learning history.

    What I find familiar to here is the lack of a caring community, that is caring enough to take care one’s neighbors. The history of Afghanistan is the progressive destruction of local farming, isolation of local communities, trending to control a dominant monocultural absolutist religious minority or tribe.

    David Gilmour in a letter or e-mail asked, What can be done? This question which we ask ourselves quite often was made famous by Lenin’s pamphlet of the same name.

    My answer: I have the empathy-to the extent that I can walk in the shoes of people from other countries that most likely I can only understand partially; for all those that have been incident by incident educated by wars for resources and wars of religion and sometimes by a bloody brotherhood of uncivil wars, but the future belongs to Mariam’s and the Tariq’s only if they can support themselves not with just jobs but ultimately with gardening, small farms and community solidarity. The next crisis is food and water almost everywhere.

    The schools that we help build will be of no value if they learn to want more than they need. It is the same here in the good old US of A. The US Empire is spreading the infectious meme of consumerism, the myth of democracy, and the ignorance of the overcrowding of the planet like in our own schools. The children are “products” raised in confinement environments for mind reductions, enticed to eat toxic foods for the body that enhance body weight and lethargy, and seduced by sexually indulgent entertainment feel impotent and excited at the same time. Almost perfect storm of induced paralysis of the will.

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