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A Thousand Splendid Suns
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A Thousand Splendid Suns

4.6 1504
by Khaled Hosseini

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Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love. 

After 103 weeks on


Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love. 

After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies ofThe Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today. 

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A Thousand Splendid Suns is an ambitious work. Once again the setting is Afghanistan, but this time [Hosseini] has taken the last 33 years of that country’s tumultuous history of war and oppression and told it on an intimate scale, through the lives of two women.”—The New York Times 

“Spectacular. . . . Hosseini’s writing makes our hearts ache, our stomachs clench and our emotions reel. . . . Hosseini mixes the experiences of these women with imagined scenarios to create a fascinating microcosm of Afghan family life. He shows us the interior lives of the anonymous women living beneath identity-diminishing burqas... Hosseini writes in gorgeous and stirring language of the natural beauty and colorful cultural heritage of his native Afghanistan. . . . Hosseini tells this saddest of stories in achingly beautiful prose through stunningly heroic characters whose spirits somehow grasp the dimmest rays of hope.”—USA Today 

“Just as good, if not better, than Hosseini’s best-selling first book, The Kite Runner”—Newsweek 

“Compelling”—New York Magazine

 “Hosseini revisits Afghanistan for a compelling story that gives voice to the agonies and hopes of another group of innocents caught up in a war. . . . Mesmerizing . . . A Thousand Splendid Suns is the painful, and at times violent, yet ultimately hopeful story of two women’s inner lives. Hosseini’s bewitching narrative captures the intimate details of life in a world where it’s a struggle to survive, skillfully inserting this human story into the larger backdrop of recent history.”—San Francisco Chronicle 

“Hosseini . . . has followed his debut novel with another work of strong storytelling and engaging characters. . . . The story pulses with life. . . . Khaled Hosseini is simply a marvelously moving storyteller.”—San Jose Mercury News 

“Hosseini’s story . . . rings true as a universal story about victims of cruelty and those who lack the most fundamental of human rights. . . . Hosseini’s work is uplifting, enlightening, universal. The author’s love for his characters and for his country is palpable. In the end, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a love letter to a country and to a people. It is a celebration of endurance and survival in the face of unspeakable tragedy. This is a love song to anyone who has ever had a broken heart and to anyone who has ever felt powerless and yet still dares to dream. And yes, Hosseini has done it again.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram 

“The novel is beautifully written with descriptive details that will haunt you long after you finish reading it.”—Dallas Morning News 

“This [novel] tells the startling story of domestic adversaries who discover that survival in a horrific world is nearly impossible without compassion, love and solidarity.  . . Hosseini’s prose . . . can stun a reader with its powerful, haunting images.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

“Absolutely compelling on every level. It’s nearly impossible for a novel—a work of fantasy and fabrication—to deliver a formidable blow, a pounding of the senses, a reeling so staggering that we are convinced the characters and their dilemmas are genuine. Such a persuasion is particularly difficult when the setting is Afghanistan, a country and culture many see as too strange for recognition, for empathy. But that’s what Khaled Hosseini does again and again with A Thousand Splendid Suns.”—Chicago Sun-Times

 “Hosseini has the storytelling gift . . . [A Thousand Splendid Suns] offers us the sweep of historic upheavals narrated with the intimacy of family and village life. . . . What keeps this novel vivid and compelling are Hosseini’s eye for the textures of daily life and his ability to portray a full range of human emotions, from the smoldering rage of an abused wife to the early flutters of maternal love when a woman discovers she is carrying a baby. . . . Hosseini’s illuminating book [is] a worthy sequel to The Kite Runner.”—Los Angeles Times

 “Many of us learned much from The Kite Runner. There is much more to be learned from A Thousand Splendid Suns . . . a brave, honorable, big-hearted book”—The Washington Post Book World 

“The author’s fans won’t be disappointed with A Thousand Splendid Suns—if anything, this book shows at even better advantage Hosseini’s storytelling gifts.”—New York Daily News 

“Hosseini has created two enormously winning female characters in Mariam and Laila, Afghan women born into very different circumstances but who have the same problems.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

“[Hosseini] is a writer of unique sensitivities. . . . Hosseini embraces an old-fashioned storytelling unconcerned with literary hipness, unafraid of sentimentality, unworried about the sort of Dickensian coincidences that most contemporary American writers consider off-limits. . . . We are lucky . . . to have a writer of Hosseini’s storytelling ambitions interpreting his culture and history for us with another large-hearted novel. . . . Despite the unjust cruelties of our world, the heroines of A Thousand Splendid Suns do endure, both on the page and in our imagination.”—Miami Herald

Lisa See
… Hosseini succeeds in carrying readers along because he understands the power of emotion as few other popular writers do. As he did in The Kite Runner, he uses a melodramatic plot to convey vividly the many aspects of love and the ways people sacrifice themselves for those they hold dear. With A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini has shown that he doesn’t intend to be a one-hit wonder. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
— The New York Times
Entertainment Weekly
Hosseini's depiction of Mariam and Laila's plight would seem cartoonishly crude if it were not, by all accounts, a sadly accurate version of what many Afghan women have experienced. The romantic twists and fairy-tale turns are not so accurate. But, as in The Kite Runner, they are precisely what make the novel such a stirring read. Childhood promises are sacred; true love never dies; justice will be done; sisterhood is powerful. It's unrealistic, and almost impossible to resist. B+.
Hosseini sets his story against the backdrop of Afghanistan's 30-year ordeal-the Soviet invasion, the emergence of the Taliban-but it's the soul-stirring connection between two victimized women that gives this novel its battered heart. 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
Family Circle
Inspiring and heart-wrenching, the story delves into love, sacrifice and survival.
O the Oprah Magazine
Love may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider the war-ravaged landscape of Afghanistan. But that is the emotion-subterranean, powerful, beautiful, illicit, and infinitely patient-that suffuses the pages of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Absolutely read it. It's a revealing look at the lives of the women beneath the burkas in contemporary Afghanistan.
New York Daily News
The author's fans won't be disappointed with A Thousand Splendid Suns--if anything, this book shows at even better advantage Hosseini's storytelling gifts.... The title, A Thousand Splendid Suns, comes from a tribute to hope and joy by Persian poet Hafiz, and Hosseini's novel is the story of the sacrifices necessary to sustain hope and joy, and the power of love to overcome fear. Splendid indeed.
Los Angeles Times
What keeps this novel vivid and compelling are Hosseini's eye for the textures of daily life and his ability to portray a full range of human emotions, from the smoldering rage of an abused wife to the early flutters of maternal love when a woman discovers she is carrying a baby.
Rocky Mountain News
A Thousand Splendid Suns is an important, provocative work. The rich and violent history of Afghanistan provides a backdrop that informs and saturates the story. Hosseini's characters, Mariam and Laila, are unforgettable; their compassion for each other and love for their children is devastating. Hosseini has succeeded in writing another epic tale, a novel not to be missed.
Charlotte Observer
Often, second novels pale in comparison to the first, but this long-awaited story pulls the reader completely into a world of cruelty, despair, pain and poverty and offers hope, redemption and love to offset the anguish. It brings to life a part of the world that the average American knows little about, and makes real for us the very human implications of our foreign policies, long after Afghanistan faded from the headlines.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
In the midst of family violence and the turbulence of war, Hosseini weaves the details of life that sustain us all: children, work, friendship, love, faith. Even in the lives of Mariam and Laila, there are the pleasures of a cup of spiced tea at the end of the day, a newborn grasping a finger, a snippet of poetry.
Miami Herald
In trying to make sense of the patterns of violence that have consumed Afghanistan, Hosseini unearths the smallest flecks of hope amid the rubble of these women's lives. The hope is this: Despite the unjust cruelties of our world, the heroines of A Thousand Splendid Suns do endure, both on the page and in our imagination.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
So what is the point of reading this novel? The texture of these characters' journey around the craters of their country is no doubt well known to readers of international news. Rendered as fiction in A Thousand Splendid Suns, however, it devastates in a new way. It forces us to imagine what we would do had we been born to such grim fates.
Unimaginably tragic, Hosseini's magnificent second novel is a sad and beautiful testament to both Afghani suffering and strength. Readers who lost themselves in The Kite Runner will not want to miss this unforgettable follow up.
Jonathan Yardley
[The book] going to be another bestseller no matter what's said about it in this and other reviews, so maybe there's no point in going further. But just in case you're curious, just in case you're wondering whether in yours truly's judgment it's as good as The Kite Runner, here's the answer: No. It's better.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Atossa Leoni, who is German-born of Afghan ancestry, was clearly chosen because she can pronounce all the Afghan words-a big plus, but it's the only plus in this bad reading. Dropping her voice on the last word of every sentence, her phrasing is regularly rendered ungrammatical by breaks at the wrong points. Her narrow vocal range makes for a dull and often difficult listening experience. Despite the reader, the book holds the listener thanks to Hosseini's riveting story-an in-depth exploration of Afghan society in the three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban cruelty. He impels us to empathize with and admire those most victimized by Afghan history and culture-women. Mariam, a 15-year-old bastard whose mother commits suicide, is married off to 40-year-old Rasheed, who abuses her brutally, especially after she has several miscarriages. At 60, Rasheed takes in 14-year-old Laila, whose parents were blown up by stray bombs. He soon turns violent with her. Although Laila is united with her childhood beloved, the potential return of the Taliban always shadows their happiness. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 26). (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Hosseini sees whether he can top The Kite Runner's remarkable record--103 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list--with this tale of two very different Afghan women over 30 years. With a national tour. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This Afghan-American author follows his debut (The Kite Runner, 2003) with a fine risk-taking novel about two victimized but courageous Afghan women. Mariam is a bastard. Her mother was a housekeeper for a rich businessman in Herat, Afghanistan, until he impregnated and banished her. Mariam's childhood ended abruptly when her mother hanged herself. Her father then married off the 15-year-old to Rasheed, a 40ish shoemaker in Kabul, hundreds of miles away. Rasheed is a deeply conventional man who insists that Mariam wear a burqa, though many women are going uncovered (it's 1974). Mariam lives in fear of him, especially after numerous miscarriages. In 1987, the story switches to a neighbor, nine-year-old Laila, her playmate Tariq and her parents. It's the eighth year of Soviet occupation-bad for the nation, but good for women, who are granted unprecedented freedoms. Kabul's true suffering begins in 1992. The Soviets have gone, and rival warlords are tearing the city apart. Before he leaves for Pakistan, Tariq and Laila make love; soon after, her parents are killed by a rocket. The two storylines merge when Rasheed and Mariam shelter the solitary Laila. Rasheed has his own agenda; the 14-year-old will become his second wife, over Mariam's objections, and give him an heir, but to his disgust Laila has a daughter, Aziza; in time, he'll realize Tariq is the father. The heart of the novel is the gradual bonding between the girl-mother and the much older woman. Rasheed grows increasingly hostile, even frenzied, after an escape by the women is foiled. Relief comes when Laila gives birth to a boy, but it's short-lived. The Taliban are in control; women must stay home; Rasheed loses his business;they have no food; Aziza is sent to an orphanage. The dramatic final section includes a murder and an execution. Despite all the pain and heartbreak, the novel is never depressing; Hosseini barrels through each grim development unflinchingly, seeking illumination. Another artistic triumph, and surefire bestseller, for this fearless writer.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.25(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed. He is A U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Brief Biography

Sunnyvale, California
Date of Birth:
March 4, 1965
Place of Birth:
Kabul, Afghanistan
B.S. in biology, Santa Clara University, 1988; M.D., UC San Diego School of Medicine, 1993

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A Thousand Splendid Suns 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1504 reviews.
1Katherine1 More than 1 year ago
This book is equally as good, and as haunting, as Kite Runner. This time the story is about two Afghani women. Life in Afghanistan is wretched enough, but to be a Muslim woman in Afghanistan can be lethal, especially after the Taliban come to power. This book is beautifully written and at times difficult to read, but it's also difficult to put down. Mariam and Laila are wonderfully-drawn characters that will stay with me forever. They made me know just how lucky I am to be an American woman, and how unfortunate life can be for Muslim women in Muslim countries. This book will break your heart, but it will also put it back together again. Highly recommended.
ArcherPL More than 1 year ago
Yes , I just finished Khaled Hosseini's second masterpiece and I am at cross roads of trying to pen down what the pages made me think and feel. Interestingly, I still haven't completed the Kite Runner but this one, I couldn't put down for a second. The first thing that strikes you about the book is the fact that it is the story of the lives of 2 women amidst a battered Afghanistan, spanning several decades, but more importantly, it is a story written by a man, completely from a woman's perspective. This is even more striking when you realize that this is the same author who made his readers' eyes sting with the accounts of "Baba Jaan" in the Kite Runner. I am in no way qualified to critique this masterpiece but I don't want to lose the essence that it left me in me today. As one reads the book, one is made brutally aware of the atrocities that are lashed out on women in different levels of society in different ways. One feels a sense of revulsion towards fundamentalism in all its forms. One is apalled at how close to truth, some of these pages probably are. Yes, the storyline speaks to one geographical area and one socio-political community, and yet as I went through the pages, the paragraphs that left my face moist with tears were not the ones that shouted atrocities, rather the ones that would resonate with any woman today, in any part of the world, in any community, in any faith. Whether it was the unshed tears of an incomplete love story, or the sorrow of a woman to lose her child even before the little one made an appearence in this world; whether it was the joy of the same woman to find opportunities where she could be a mother in ways that completed her very existence without ever giving birth; whether it was that friend who would kill for you; that friend who would die so you could live your dreams; at the end of the day this was a story of the best and worst facets of human relationships. No one is without frailties, least of all a woman, and yet what makes you look in awe at the 2 principal characters in the book is their very imperfection; their inability to probably fight their circumstances and yet their ability to be the best they can be. The book makes you look at reality head on, makes you lock eyes with the most brutal beast that can get you down, some call it fate, some call it circumstances, I call it my reflection in my mirror. You truly are your own worst enemy if you let that reflection determine your image rather than the other way around. Laila and Mariam - the 2 principal characters in the book, didn't live, they merely existed, but somehow in all that they went through, their spirit shone with a radiance that can only be a gift of the Divine. Yes, they are characters from a work of fiction, but as I started to look around me, I realized I have the privilege of knowing a lot of women who may not suffer the physical adversities that Laila and Mariam did, but mentally they could have been reduced to a shell of a human being. Yet these women not only survived but have done so with pride, dignity, with their heads held high. We
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read. The last 100 pages had me in tears. Really made me think about priveleged I am to live in a country like the USA. Very good book,excellent author. Must get!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased the Large Print edition for my 84 year-old mother-in-law who recently came to live in my home. She was delighted with the gift and enjoyed this volume immensely. When she finished, she was insistent that I find her a copy of its predecessor, The Kite Runner. I completely recommend The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns to all readers, whether the standard print or the large print editions.
Alexine More than 1 year ago
Khaled Hosseini is a very gifted writer. This book blew me away. Hosseini takes you deep into the depressing lives of three central characters and makes you truely get to know them. Books have made me cry and laugh out loud but this was the first novel to make my stomach clench at some of things that happen to these women. I can't wait see more from Hosseini.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Judging from the number of reviews, I must be the last person on the planet to read this book. If you listened to the audiobook as I did, just a friendly warning: don't listen to it in public--because I defy you not to bawl like a baby at parts of this book, especially the last third.
"Suns" seemed to me like an allegorical tale. Hosseini has written a very observant, photographic picture of life in Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of Maryam, Laila and to some extent Rasheed and Tariq. This is definitely a book told through the women. It is about how each of their lives either expands and painfully, brutally and violently contracts at the whim of the men in their lives, just as Afghanistan is contracting and suffocating at the hands of the Russians, warlords and then the Taliban.
Hosseini does not spare the reader the pain and despair of Maryam's life, beginning with her betrayal by her father, through her daily life with the "cheerful cruelty" and violence of Rasheed, and Laila's unwelcome entry into it. He describes with incredible realism how Laila's life literally explodes around her. This is a well written book I think most would find interesting.
I haven't read The Kite Runner, but after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I cannot wait.
Angela2932ND More than 1 year ago
Can we ever read enough books that broaden our perspective on the world and help us see other cultures than our own? This book spans 30 years and gives us a glimpse of the history of Afghanistan through the eyes of two Afghani women. These two women, the older Mariam and the younger Laila, both are wives of Rasheed, a cruel, cold man who sees beating his wife as a man's rightful due. Over time, Mariam and Laila form a bond, and this small little ray of hop and kindness is in stark contrast to the misery of their bleak worlds. Once again, after his masterpiece, "The Kite Runner," Khaled Hosseini is treating us to another involving, gripping novel, and taking us to a place and a life that is likely to make us very much appreciate our own accidents of birth into a much easier world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For a 20 something American this book opened my eyes in so many ways to so many intricate details of middle eastern culture as well as providing a heartwrenchingly universal storyline.I feel privilaged to have read it!
SHARON39 More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written story weaving a stark picture of quiet desperation in a culture that devalues and dehumanizes women. This one eats at your very soul! Two others I found completely compelling, heartwarming and ultimately life changing are EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by L. Pirrung and THE HELP, by K. Stockett....SO WORTH YOUR TIME!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a excellent book.
harrypotter69 More than 1 year ago
After reading a thousand splendid suns, i had a clear cut view of the some of the problems regarding sexism in Afghanistan. Throughout the book we follow two Afghani women who face the adversity that their unique societies present to them. This really painted a realistic picture as to the extremely different lives americans live compared to afghanis. I really had a strong feeling for this novel just because you feel the pain and sorrow that these women do. I would strongly recommend this book as well as The kite runner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Author tells a hard story of a young girl named Mariam who was forced to marry as a child to a old man who was a shoe maker in the hard country Kabul. This story will take you places which you will be glad you never lived but yet it teaches you about the harsh life in this other land. Much sadness but you have many tears of hope for Mariam throughout her life, not so much happiness she ever lived in her harsh life. I will tell you I'm soft hearted and I went though many tissues and kept reading. I came to love Mariam and pity her even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love all of Hosseini's books! This story is tragic but beautiful at the same time. Even though the novel is sad it is an easy and enjoyable read
MapleValleySJ More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was better than Kite Runner.  It is very thought provoking.  Highly recommended.  A page-turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVE THIS BOOK! Such a life changing novel! It will have you bawling like a baby! Definitely recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this story in less than a week. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I rarely rate things as perfection, but this story had everything a reader could ask for. You won't be able to put it down! I was emotionally invested in the characters from the beginning, and as a new mom understood the sacrifice some women must make. A truly eye-opening story that spans all cultures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to read,brutal at times but had to finish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and emotional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read!!
BackPartOfMyEar More than 1 year ago
Let me just start off saying that I very rarely read for leisure. I have read Khaled's The Kite Runner -- which in my opinion was phenomenal -- which then led me to read this. Never in my entire life have I been teary eyed when reading a book, and I'm a 22 year old guy. This book is one of those books that you can't put down and want to keep reading and reading; I was going to take a nap after having about 70 pages left to read, but could not bring myself to sleep, so I finished the book. Anyways, the story, as amazing as it is, is very heart wrenching at times. Although this particular story is fiction, it almost seems to me that it a story of some people in Afghanistan. I highly recommend that you read this book, but I must warn you, if you get sad easily, then maybe you should stay away and read something else, perhaps The Kite Runner?  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an AMAZING book! It made me laugh, scream, and cry. The characters are amazing and captured my heart, and there are so many unexpected twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hauntingly beautiful, immensely sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant! I finished this book in a day. I just couldn't put it down. It's gripping, horrifying, and heart-wrenching. It captivates the essence of inner strength when you should have none left. It shows the human spirit, our connections to each other, and the power we still have in our own humanity, even when it seems we have nothing left at all. It reveals self-sacrifice, gratitude for life's fleeting moments of joy in an overwhelming sea of despair. I could go on and on. Read it yourself, because it's worth it!
Motecizuma More than 1 year ago
In this spectacular novel, two women named Mariam and Laila meet in the most unordinary circumstance: Laila is nearly killed by a rocket, but her parents are killed. After this, the two learn to become best friends and see that friendship can be the best of things to have during times of crisis. The messages it convey are friendship and sacrifice, because both are always present during these two lives, even when tragedy strikes or disaster hits. I liked how there was everything in a novel, from trials and violence to romance and happiness, all being made into one awesome novel. I didn't like the beginning, because though it told about Mariam's childhood, it got boring at times. I would recommend this for everyone preteen and up, because (parents beware), there is some descriptions of lovemaking (serious), descriptions of gruesome scenes, etc. If you haven't already, read The Kite Runner, the prequel to this, because that novel is also very well written. Overall, I would rate this a 9.5, because though it is not one of my all-time favorites, it is still a book I have since added to my collection of my best reads.