Just finished reading ....

.... Khaled Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'. As some of you might recall, I didnt like Kite Runner and it took me all this while to work up to the second book. While I wasnt much into the plot, I thought this was the better effort since I liked that it was set against the Afghanistan political backdrop and we got more of an account of political events this time around. However, the end, pretending that the country was just fine after 9/11 made me stop believing everything he had to say. And, that emotional connection that I require with a book just wasnt there.

The interesting thing I found was Hosseini's account of both Mariam's and Laila's feelings when they donned the burqa, both of them felt surprisingly secure and safe from prying eyes. I wonder if this is truly a woman's POV or something made up, because my instinctive reaction - as a woman- is to scoff wholeheartedly. That Laila who is as modern as an Afghani woman could be, being brought up by a progressive father, encouraged to study and forge her own way would have the same reaction as the more unsophisticated Mariam seems unbelievable to me. And the idea that anyone would willingly embrace the loss of freedom. But, maybe I am not sensitive enough to appreciate what the women have been through and where they are in their head.

Also, the thing that totally bugged me and took me right out of the book is the dialogue. In the beginning it wasn't so obvious, but the language quickly attains the cadence of Americanese "It's the whistling, the damn whistling, I hate more than anything", Rasheed saying 'You think?!' to someone at one point of time.

And what irritated me even more was the interspersing of Farsi thrown around in the book. I've said it before but I'll say it again. It does not work logically, because this is a work written in English, but the context is that the characters are Afghani and conversing entirely in Farsi. So, either they talk in Farsi all the time or they talk in English all the time. How can they talk in English with some random Farsi words thrown in? I might have been forgiving of the second language if there was a glossary of terms at the end, or if the words were entirely contextual.

I wont review since I said everything I wanted to say with the Kite Runner.

Have you guys read it? What did you think?


15 comments:

Smita said...

WIAN has read it and has loved it. Have borrowed it from her and it is lurking somewhere in the book shelf. Dunno when will I read it. Somehow books with too much violence against women affect me a lot...they disturb me...is this a disturbing book?? WIAN says it is!!!

I have read Kite Runner and liked it...

couchpapaya said...

smita - it's disturbing in the context of the political situation which shows how desperate normal people can get and how an entire country's life and freedoms can change. it's disturbing wrt some of the ideas like the burqa bit i mentioned. i found the part dealing with protagonists, mariam, laila and rasheed, intellectually disturbing as opposed to emotionally .. which is why i didnt like it all that much. it does have some graphic bits so if these affect you then be warned.

Bouncing-Bubble said...

yes I've read it, and I liked kiterunner better than this one. Infact I disliked the book as somehow I felt the author was trying to dwell overly on the sympathy of the reader... I mean the violence against the women in the book, might be reality (happ in Afghan), but then I seriously feel another bk against the same backdrop (Afghan war, guilt/remorse) wouldn't go down well.

Bouncing-Bubble said...

as for Kiterunner, thought the end was too filmy and there were instances where Khaled was doing nothing but making the reader feel the agony of every other character, I was smitten by the one-liners (which I found to be rivetting). Infact much later when I read ur review was I able to appreciate the shortcomings u had mentioned.. AS for this bk, it made me remark "not again".. esply what happens to Laila's lover.. (his moving out, wounds and his re-intro in the latter part). AS for the political part, yes, as u've mentioned one could get a clearer account of what's happ.

avdi said...

I didnt read either of the books when I got some negetive vibes from the reviewers. I hate diaspora books written for the foreigners and avoid them usually.

Esp here, as Smita says, the very thought of reading a depressing book puts me off.

eye-in-sty-in said...

Ah! Clinical as always! Are you a surgeon?

couchpapaya said...

bubbles - u are right abt the getting sympathy part, esp as i didnt think he got into the skin of the characters at all. both mariam's and laila's thoughts were quite cliched, story was contrived, dont want to sound cynical, but .... and definitely i dont think a third book will do weel at all, the topic has been done to death, atleast by hosseini.

avdi - i shld try to get rid of my compulsion to read best-selling books. certainly these were terrible, as were the works of paulo coelho or nicholas sparks ... brrr..

EISI - sure, y not..

couchpapaya said...

bubbles - o god yes, tariq (laila's lover) was such a one-dimensional creation, the perfect fantasy character, disabled yet honorable and good and smart and funny and nauseating ....

eye-in-sty-in said...

sure why not? How useful was that answer, Ms. P!!!! lolz :-)

couchpapaya said...

as useful as the question mr. e!! :P

eye-in-sty-in said...

The Q ws 2 detect ur profession. The answer was as vague as a cat examining a cat scan!

couchpapaya said...

dont u follow a no disclosure policy on ur blog?? i do the same :)

eye-in-sty-in said...

ha ha ha - That I can totally relate to :-)
spikeace@gmail.com

Mama - Mia said...

i havent read this one! so no idea really. i read Kite Runner and wasnt as impressed with it as rave reviews would have liked me to!

but CP, i didnt get it! dont we keep thrown in hindi / marathi words while speaking in english?!

tho if they have been liberally used, a glossary is a defi must! :)


cheers!

abha

couchpapaya said...

abha - the farsi used isnt like kite runner, where mostly it was names of food or other stuff which was familiar in it etymology. here i missed out on a lot of meanings.

i agree, we mix english and other languages when talking all the time. but, that's when we talk in english primarily. here, the people are supposedly talking in farsi, but the conversations the author relates would make you think they are talking in english with farsi thrown in. oh well, it's a (very) minor quibble but i got really irritated over it.

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