“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

cover-splendidsuns.jpg The author of the bestselling “Kite Runner” has written a second novel, and I must say I find it shattering.

It is set in Afghanistan, which of course is on all our minds as Canadian soldiers get killed there. The author Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He has lived in the U.S. since l980, where he is a U.S. envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He brings to life in a startling way his home country’s misery in the midst of non-stop war.

This misery fills the lives of the families he describes: the illegitimate daughter who is married off to a cruel widower, and a second young girl who loses both parents in a bomb attack and has the same fate. The Washington Post Book World finds parts of “The Kite Runner” raw and excruciating to read and the same thing applies here . We get a picture of the Soviets departure, the war lords return and finally the Taliban. Reading about their ferocious rules in the newspaper is quite different from seeing how they apply, in this new book.

Hosseini writes sparely and vividly. The 25 years away from his country have not dimmed his awareness, nor his great affection for his own people. He shares this in “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. At times the story is heart-breaking.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall