Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns:’ Disappointing, clichéd

Cover of 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'Everywhere I go in DC these days, I see people carrying around Khaled Hosseini’s latest novel: A Thousand Splendid Suns. Washingtonians are reading it everywhere: the train, the park, the bus, you name it. According to the Washington Post’s "Book World" section, the hardcover edition of the book is the top seller in the Washington DC Metro area. It is really quite fascinating for me to see a bestseller at work.

I, too, am among those Washingtonians carrying around this novel. Like everyone else, I’m reading it while commuting back and forth to work. I’m nearly done with it and so far I’m unimpressed. It’s a real disappointment for me, as I was so enchanted by The Kite Runner that I could not wait to put my hands on Husseini’s next work.

But this novel doesn’t really present anything new. It is filled with clichés and it’s quite obvious that Hosseini had Western audiences in mind when he wrote it. I felt he was writing to please an audience and not merely to exorcise his deep-rooted feelings. I was also disappointed with the prose. It felt so dull and it dragged until eternity. I also felt he had trouble portraying the female point-of-view. His Kite Runner protagonist, Amir, was so well-developed and complex. That is not the case with the two protagonists here: Mariam and Laila. Too bad!

But then again, this is only humble opinion. I’m sure there are many out there that will disagree.

14 Comments

  1. Brian Ulrich June 11, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this, too. I wondered what he would produce next. Thanks for the opinion!

    Reply
  2. dm June 11, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    I actually just bought “The Kite Runner” but i haven’t started it yet. I was told it is excellent so I’m surprised that this novel isn’t that great.

    Reply
  3. suhad June 11, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for the insight Natasha. Is is very interesting. Hossini will be in my local “Borders” this weekend June 17th to discuss his new novel. I still need to read it and come up with my own judgment. as I was charmed by the “Kite Runner” and spread the charm to almost every high schooler in my school library…

    Reply
  4. moi June 12, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Another Washingtonian here reading it on the Metro! I agree with you about Hosseini writing for a Western audience. I haven’t finished reading it, but so far I found it gripping and hard to put down. The book stirred a lot of feelings in me, so I would say that’s a good thing.

    Another thing about this book is I wondered as I read it whether some parts were purely fiction or based on real events that occurred under the Taliban and during the Soviet war. Since the book is fiction, I’m assuming that it could be based on facts, but the author could definitely embellish. I always hate how books and movies end in general (I assume they should go on forever), so I doubt this will be different. We’ll see!

    Reply
  5. sam June 13, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    im saving that book from my flight to amman..i loved the kite runner and have been looking forward to his new book..
    thanks for the review? 🙂

    Reply
  6. natalia July 26, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Husseini’s hidden agenda was beautifully concealed by his style of writing and choosing a Pashtoon as the main character!! How clever!
    Surely these stories become popular in the West. Talk about “good timing”!!

    Reply
  7. natalia July 26, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Husseini’s hidden agenda…!!!
    Please send comments on my email addr. I’ll be more than happy to discuss this further.

    Reply
  8. dm July 31, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    I just finished reading this and I have to say that I actually enjoyed it more than The Kite Runner — and I loved The Kite Runner

    Reply
  9. karen r suleiman August 17, 2007 at 11:44 am

    i disagree. this book ,just like the kite runner is wonderful . Husseini is a great writer.

    Reply
  10. najia October 4, 2007 at 10:02 am

    i absolutely loved this book…yes it was gripping and i didnt want to put it down. i liked this one a little bit more then i did Kite Runner..lol does he have another book coming out?

    Reply
  11. najia October 4, 2007 at 10:02 am

    i absolutely loved this book…yes it was gripping and i didnt want to put it down. i liked this one a little bit more then i did Kite Runner..lol does he have another book coming out?

    Reply
  12. Ayesha Pervez May 23, 2008 at 3:07 am

    A Thousand Splendid Suns is an amazing book, strangely Im reading this one before The Kite Runner which I hear is even more splendid, so Im just dying to get my hands on The Kite Runner. I cried like anything while reading A Thousand Splendid Suns and I wish there was a way I could convey my appreciation to the author, what a emotional story, tremendous, heart wrecking. Im almost at the end and I just cant put it down! Youre a great writer Mr. Hosseini~! Welldone!

    Reply
  13. Deb Luhowy July 19, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, and found it to be one of the most moving, gripping novels I’ve ever read. Once into the story after the first 50 pages or so, I couldn’t put it down. The main characters’ private thoughts of anguish, sadness and love were expressed with such a poetic and magical quality – a stark contradiction to this backdrop of destruction and injustice, and therefore all the more powerful. His female and male characters were very real and strong. Hosseini is a wonderfully gifted author, and I cannot wait to read The Kite Runner and other subsequent works.

    Reply
  14. Mona November 14, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I just finished reading the book Natasha and I couldn’t agree more with every point you made.

    Simply put: it lacked authenticity. I believed kite runner, whereas this book seemed too formalic.

    Reply

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