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In seventh grade, I was completely captivated by my English teacher’s bookshelf. Without him noticing, or so I thought, I quickly grabbed the fattest book I could find in the bookshelf and ran out faster than I ever had in my whole life. I was of course going to return it, but I was too embarrassed to ask if I could borrow any of the books and he did have, aside from my mom, the biggest collection of books. When I finally took the book out of the depths of my backpack a few hours later, I was greeted with a hardcover of a girl looking over a vast city of brown hues, A Thousand Splendid Suns, I whispered to myself.


Let me give you an insight.


You will meet two Afghani women; Mariam and Laila. They will make you roar with laughter, but elicit small smiles from you as well. At one point, you will feel immensely exasperated by the intense rush of romance, by the passions of desired sex. But you will also live the horrors of war, and you will most certainly meet death. However, there is balance; you will experience birth and motherhood, and you will be immensely overwhelmed by the joys of motherly love.


You will feel infuriated, depressed, lost. As you get to know them, you will feel the distress of being an unwanted child. You will get angry at them, you will want to save them, caress them, help them, something. Anything. But you can’t.  


You will close the book with a sigh of sorrow and inspiration.


I admire this book. I am not just infatuated with the characters or the storyline but to the beautiful writing. Khaled Hosseini has the talent of telling a complicated, political, very emotional cultural story in beautiful prose. It is as if you are reading a poem full of emotion and hidden meaning, but you can actually understand what is being said.

I recommend you follow the motif of the sun. You will see the hope and the darkness of it, quite literally very much like the sun, and if you were paying attention, when you close the book one final time you will think, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”; I get it.


Somehow a man managed to tell the story of two women splendidly well. At Seattle University Saturday the 27th, Hosseini explained how through his work in aiding refugees, he got to meet and interact with women whose stories weren’t being told. His response to this issue: write a book. When asked precisely how he managed such a good job at it, he mentioned how these were people he created and got acquainted with from weeks to months of writing. He didn’t pretend to know what these women were going through, he just told a story he commonly saw.


Of course, he has other books like The Kite Runner, which is just as heartbreaking and moving as the novel mentioned above, and And the Mountains Echoed which I have not, but will read. However, Hosseini’s afternoon at Seattle U was not solely about his writing. He was accompanied by Razia Jan, a female Afghan leader who created a school to educate girls that otherwise would not have access to any form of education for economic and cultural reasons.


Together they both lectured a crowd about their home country and the middle east, providing people who know very little of that region, like me, with an insight of what it’s like to be from a country that for years has been in war.


Overall, I showed up because I love the books. Being a foreigner in the US, Hosseini’s poetic writing always brings me a sense of home. His careful description and calm narration makes it feel as if I have walked the same streets as his characters. Though I come from a completely different culture, the deep passion for the place he grew up in is easily breathed in every line. It’s this shared passion for home, no matter how hard life is there, that makes me admire and enjoy his writing so much. There are no words for what it felt like to sit and hear him speak. But also, I am grateful for everything else I learned from those two incredibly intelligent and purpose driven people. Part of my college application to Seattle University included my praise of A Thousand Splendid Suns, sitting in that crowd, I could feel my heart smile at the irony that a year later I was sitting in Piggot Auditorium watching and listening to the author of that same book.


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