Looking for Summer Reads?

Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

By Haley Patterson

Disclaimer: This blog goes out to everyone who did not fall under Rachel’s literary umbrella. If you were left scratching your head after reading the last post, this one will probably appeal more to you. (No offense here, Rachel, just trying to accommodate the non YA fans.) Here it comes: Khaled Hosseini. Some of you might have already read him, but if you haven’t, this is a must. Ok, so, you got me, it is fiction, but I refuse to call it “teen fiction.” The appeal is much broader than that.

Why should you read him? – He has only written 3 novels so far- The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed. His prose is magical and the way he weaves the plot together from so many different angles is simply so hard to achieve that I admire any author who is willing to take the time to carefully craft a magnificent book, even if it takes longer to produce than others authors take. A big influence on Hosseini’s writing is his heritage. Born in Afghanistan, this Middle Eastern storytelling style is evident in his prose. He explore this in his Kite Runner, the protagonist Hassan being, like himself, a professional fiction writer born in Afghanistan but transplanted to America.

The Kite Runner- This is the first novel written by Hosseini, but you would never guess. The prose is flawless and the plot is riveting. The historical backdrop is the Soviet incursion of Afghanistan in the eighties, but do not be fooled. This is no work of historical fiction. A hallmark of all his books, this one features themes like friendship and trust through the lens of a rising sense of racial injustice on the part of the protagonist. But, don’t despair- “There is a way to be good again, Amir jan.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns- If Kate Chopin was Middle Eastern, the Awakening would come out somewhat like this. If you are a feminist- scratch that- if you are an egalitarian, whereas The Kite Runner relevant to race, this one is relevant to gender roles. Set also in Kabul, 1000 Suns delves into the intricate relationships within a family of one husband, two wives, and quite a few offspring. In Hosseini’s view, “Both novels are multigenerational, and so the relationship between parent and child, with all of its manifest complexities and contradictions, is a prominent theme. I did not intend this, but I am keenly interested, it appears, in the way parents and children love, disappoint, and in the end honor each other. In one way, the two novels are corollaries: The Kite Runner was a father-son story, and A Thousand Splendid Suns can be seen as a mother-daughter story.”

And the Mountains Echoed- If, from my inadequate review of the first 2 novels, you assume that the plots are trite and the themes blasé, this one is anything but. In fact, the style of this piece of literature makes it hard to call it a novel. Reminiscent to Scheherazade’s nightly tales, the fragments of this book are thematically centered yet seemingly disjoint stories. However, unlike the 1001 Arabian Nights, all of the fragments combine to form a cohesive singular plot, unveiled to his readers shortly before the denouement. If you are looking for stylistic creativity, surely you have found it here. Weaving in and out of the lives of character separated by time and distance, Hosseini achieves a solid and extraordinarily intriguing plotline that will keep you turning the pages of this book late into the night.