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K: Khaled Hosseini #AToZChallenge

When I was working in Chennai for a brief four months, I used to stay in a hostel. Worst time of my life, trust me. Anyway, when a Bangalorean moves to Chennai and has bare minimum friends, any free day is a dud. Chennai is not a place that you can explore on foot. At least for me it wasn't easy. My weekends were usually restricted to visiting a book seller near my hostel. This was not a store, books were sold on the footpath here. While most of them were pirated copies, at times you did find very old originals. My eyes always found them. That's how I discovered Jhumpa Lahiri and her book 'Unaccustomed Earth'. I used to pick up a lot of books from here. A weekend meant exhausting two books and I needed new ones soon. During one such tryst to the book seller is when I picked up a book called 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', only because I loved the title. Who the author was, what was the book about, did not matter then.

The novel centers on two women, Mariam and Laila, how their lives become intertwined after a series of drastic events, and their subsequent friendship and support for each other in the backdrop of Kabul in the 20th and 21st century. I finished the fairly large book in two days letting it happily eat into my sleep time. I was so blown away by the story that I re-read it again after a week and felt the same emotions churn with me. Mariam's journey made my heart bleed and the writing only helped enhance the myriad emotions I was feeling. When Laila was introduced, I couldn't help but fall in love with her. Such a charming pretty young thing she was. Tariq is the perfect lover and their relationship is very well shown. Then tragedy strikes. Laila and Mariam meet and get along amidst the weirdest of circumstances. Their relationship soon evolves from being strangers to almost mother-daughter. Such a beautifully woven tale this.

The writing is so brilliant that you can imagine the Kabul streets in your head and almost see the smoke coming out of the chimneys. The story is set against a war backdrop, yes, but it never waivers from the two women. Hosseini is a master of relationships and shows the relationship between Mariam and Laila in its rawest and purest form. This book makes you cry, smile and then cry more again. But it is totally worth it. The story is purely about relationships and love. Not necessarily the one you share with a lover.

Almost instantly, I picked up 'The Kite Runner'. This one centers on two boys and their friendship. Once rich and the other, expectantly poor. Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant and is the kite-runner for Amir. "For you, a thousand times over", the famous line of this novel is told by Hassan to Amir and then later by Amir to someone else. The story traces the different journeys of these two boys and witnesses them becoming men. Again, the story revolves only around relationships and is set in Afghanistan, Pakistan and California. There is a revelation hidden in the story, and when you get there you realize how perfect the truth is. Which in turns gives the best ever ending to the book. This book probably has one of the best endings I've ever read.

While the stories are purely based on relationships making it a winner already, the true delight is the writing. Simple, clean and brief. The story doesn't drag for a bit and the characters are always limited. I have 'And The Mountains Echoed' safely on my book shelf but I am yet to get to it. I know that is the story of a brother and his sister and I cannot wait to read it. Nobody portrays relationships the way Hosseini does. There is no sugar coating or pretense. It is like how it should be. Honest, open and uncertain. That's the brilliance each of his books come with.

Have you read his books? Which of it is your favorite?


  1. Yes the emotions are so well expressed in his writing. I read the Kite Runner first and then A Thousand splendid suns. Like you I still haven't read And the mountains echoed.

  2. Oh, Is Chennai that bad for strangers, I did not know of that. I always felt Chennai is safer than Delhi. Anyways Glad that you found some good books to read.
    Launching SIM Organics This April

    *Menaka Bharathi *


  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns. What an author. Which part of Chennai were you in? Hugs!

  4. Khaled Hosseini's books have had an emotional impact on me. The stories kind of get under your skin. I have loved reading his first two books. 'And the Mountains Echoed' is in my Kindle library and I need to pick it up soon!

  5. Hosseini! He writes like it's poetry. A Thousand Splendid Suns features on my top ten. It's such a beautiful book, I can't even praise it in full sentences.

    And The Mountains Echoed is also very good in terms of writing, but it's not a single story - it's like a movie with an ensemble cast. It's not like his other works.

  6. I've loved both A Thousand splendid suns and The Kite runner. Like you, I have And the mountains echoed on my bookshelf yet to be read. If you liked his books by the way, you might enjoy Nadia Hashimi. I've recently discovered her and she writes about Afghanistan too.

    Kyrielle - Home

  7. Haven't read him but heard Rave reviews from everyone who has. All his books are on my tbr. You make him sounds very appealing to my book starved soul.

  8. I have all the three books and loved them so much. The relationships, emotions and then Afghanistan portrayed in a raw from.I recently read Forty rules of love by Elif Shafaq and it's very unique story of the wandering dervishes. You may enjoy that.

  9. I read the kite runner and was blown away. You are right nobody best describes relationships better than him :)

  10. Hosseini has a way with emotions. He never gets it wrong. So powerful. So magical. The Kite Runner. Sheer brilliance!

  11. I too have read A Thousand Splendid Suns. Yet to read the Kite Runner and And The Mountains Echoed! I might as well read all the books again at one go! :D

  12. This is one person I do want to read, but I haven't been able to pick these serious books. I do want to though and then we can discuss about them. :)


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