12 February 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

This is another book by Khaled Hosseini about Afghanistan. It cover the second half of the 20th century and mostly focuses on two women, Mariam and Laila.

I liked this one much better than The Kite Runner, and I liked The Kite Runner. But A Thousand Splendid Suns is a little quieter (particularly the end), a lot less violent, and nowhere near as melodramatic. If you're going to try Hosseini just once, skip The Kite Runner and read A Thousand Splendid Suns. Recommended.

I particularly like the significance of the title (I should, given the name of my blog). It comes from a poem by Saeb Tabrizi about Kabul, and while the book isn't so much about Kabul, it's still worth quoting here:

Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains
And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies
Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes
But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

My song exalts her dazzling tulips
And at the beauty of her trees, I blush
How sparkling the water flows from Pul-I Bastaan!
May Allah protect such beauty from the evil eye of man!

Khizr chose the path to Kabul in order to reach Paradise
For her mountains brought him close to the delights of heaven
From the fort with sprawling walls, A Dragon of protection
Each stone is there more precious than the treasure of Shayagan

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Her laughter of mornings has the gaiety of flowers
Her nights of darkness, the reflections of lustrous hair
Her melodious nightingales, with passion sing their songs
Ardent tunes, as leaves inflamed, cascading from their throats

And I, I sing in the gardens of Jahanara, of Sharbara
And even the trumpets of heaven envy their green pastures.

Poetry about cities somehow always gets me, whether it's about Cairo, Jerusalem, Xi'an Kashgar, or Herat. I don't think I've read any about Bishkek though...


  1. I agree 100%. I liked The Kite Runner, but I liked A Thousand Splendid Suns a lot more.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm glad it is at the library in "multiple locations."

  3. I just checked this out from my library during lunch. Coincidence??? Yes it probably is.

  4. Drat. I may just have to read it.

  5. I hope you like it if you do, Melissa.

  6. This book was amazing! I haven't read The Kite Runner yet, but I just don't think it could top this one.

  7. Where can I get the Farsi version of the Poem by Saeb Tabrizi about Kabul?

  8. I wish I knew where you could get it. I'm sorry I don't know.