Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

We met at the Wallingford restaurant Kabul to discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini.

Over plates of warm bolani we first listed the numbers of book fair books we'd each completed. On average we each read about 4 of the books. Reaction was mixed on all titles. Some of us liked a title while others felt it earned the award for "worst. book. ever." (We'll wait until everyone has had a chance to make their own decision before posting our "recommend" or "skip" rating.)

Once that chatter died down, we ordered dinner and started in on ATSS. On this book we were in agreement that it is a worthy second effort by the author of the Kite Runner. The story was compelling, engaging and we felt that Dr. Hosseini captured the voice, emotions and thoughts of women well.

We struggled a little with the bright red bow wrapped around the end of the story but didn't feel it detracted too much. After the brutal almost unbearable ending of the Kite Runner it was nice to see that Hosseini's stories don't appear to be formulaic.

While the male / female relationships are the driving plot line the true beauty of this story is the evolution of the relationship between Miriam and Laila.

Try as we might it is hard to understand the culture of the Burhka and how it can be anything other than oppression. It is clear to us that if a society could up end itself in Afghanistan in our lifetime than it could happen anywhere. Just because we are free today to live our lives in any way we see fit, including *gasp* working outside the home, leading companies, being doctors or walking in public without male escort doesn't mean that it won't always be that way. Diligent participation in our government is important.

One of the themes of the book is the relationship between Rasheed, a pretty unlikeable man and the women in his life. The story of spousal abuse is unfortunately timeless, but a religious culture that enables it is a pretty clear sign that somewhere something is off track.

Our hope for the author is that he continues to write, we are fans!

As for dinner, next time you're in Seattle and are in the mood for a casual atmosphere and good food stop by Kabul. I recommend the Lamb Kabobs. SO GOOD!

Can't linger, we had to change the date of our next meeting so we only have two weeks to read it. Normally, it would not be a problem but Harry Potter arrives on doorsteps Saturday morning.