Thursday, August 9, 2007

This is where the world drops off

Curling up with a good book and really delving into it has been one of my greatest pleasures in the universe, ever since I was a child. Those of us who are addicted to reading know just how wonderful it feels to lose yourself into a whole new world. We also know exactly what Gustave Flaubert was trying to say when he exclaimed, "Read in order to live." And don't we all want to live and not just exist?

My most recent read was recommended to me by my mother. It is a book called A Thousand Splendid Suns.

In 2006, Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner -- which has sold 8 million copies in 34 countries -- received the Humanitarian Award from the U.N. Refugee Agency, and was named a goodwill envoy for that agency. As a native of Afghanistan, a country with one of the world's largest refugee populations, Hosseini said he planned to "use his access to the media to give voice to victims of humanitarian crises and raise public awareness about matters relating to refugees." With the publication of this one, his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, 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. This time, Hosseini tells of the experiences of the thousands of silent burqa-clad women of Afghanistan

Told through the alternating voices of two women, the story spans the turbulent period from the 1970s to post-9/11. The multigenerational story is set mainly in the city of Kabul, Hosseini's birthplace. Afghanistan and its culture are as integral to the story as the relationship between the two women, Mariam and Laila, and their abusive husband, Rasheed.

This novel's readers will also gain a better understanding of the effects of what Hosseini calls the "cultural vandalism" of the Taliban, which shattered Afghanistan's arts and culture, and the devastating impacts of Shariah law on women's lives.

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.

If this book had been a thousand more pages, I would have continued to read them.

I find that in general, the most wonderful thing that reading offers is a peep into another world. When you pick up a book and allow yourself to be lost in it, it's like you have transcended your present situation. This temporary escape from our routine life is of great significance. Reading offers us a chance to see the world from someone else's eyes, thus broadening our horizons and opening our minds to new possibilities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find the same joy in reading and will definitely pick up this book. thanks.