Friday, May 08, 2009

A thousand suicidal suns?

Not sure I should have opted to read the truly depressing second novel by Khaled Hosseini (his first being the Kite Runner).

What an onslaught. Gut-wrenching disaster after gut-wrenching disaster. Admittedly, I haven't finished it yet - will there be a ray of light and laughter at the end? Somehow I doubt it....though I'm ploughing on in hope.

I don't mind a dark novel. I don't mind a sad novel. In a perverse way, I even enjoy reading about mistreated women because it gives me more material for my occasional feminist soapbox. And I realise life Afghanistan's recent history is hardly a bed of roses.

But reading this is comparable to sitting through a bad sermon. You feel that once the guy's got you sitting there, he takes the chance to throw his worst at you because he knows you'll be too embarrassed to get up and leave.

My view doesn't seem to be the popular one. Most reviews of the book are glowing. Is this because people feel they ought to enjoy it? Or am I missing something?


Dr Danny said...

OK, so I was sceptical. My mum read it and she didn't complain, so maybe I thought you were making a bit of a fuss. Sorry. But then I read it. Oh yes. A thousand splendid suicides indeed. Picking it up each day was truly painful. It is well written. It is, I'm sure, an insight into the lives of women who are cast an horrendous lot when they grow up in Afghanistan. But it was so very painful. Every bad thing I could think of, and many more happened. It was a good book and it taught me a lot, but it was just too much. So I agree. I bow wo your wisdom. I'm sorry for doubting you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Anna, but I loved this book - couldn't put it down and found it even more insightful than the Kite Runner. Mostly, I was astonished by how well a man wrote his women, and from everything I've heard from my friends who lived in Afghanistan for years, it was a frighteningly accurate account of the Taliban's activities at the time. I'm one of the glowing reviews - but I'm not sure I'd want to read it again! Too painful... Fiona xxx

AnnaP said...

Hey Fi,

Well, I knew I was in the minority ; )

I don't doubt TSS accuracy....though I couldn't say whether it's a good portrayal of a woman - the awful things that keep happening push out any potential for character development.

I'm also all for learning about real-life events via fiction. But I guess I need a little more subtlety and some kind of gesture towards hope to actually feel a book's been worth the slog. In this case, I'd rather have just watched the news.