Thursday, September 27, 2007

On A Thousand Splendid Suns

Un-put-down-able. I picked up the book because I was curious to see what it was all about, and what had made it a chart topper in the U.S. I read it over a weekend non stop. While typically, that is said of books with gripping story lines, in this case, it was not so. I just wanted the agony to end, I wanted to see how it ended and I knew I would never feel like picking it up again if I put it down before I finished it. It was a painful saga, and the story rode on stereotypes through and through. I'll give Hosseini the credit for holding the thread well enough, and for well-rendered descriptions of war-ridden Afghanistan. But to be honest, I found no quality in the story, no depth, and quite overdone pathos and drama. I didn't quite understand what made it such a success.
The other day while cycling around, I noticed a sign near the public library saying "Book club discussion: A thousand splendid suns". Quite some coincidence, I thought, so I decided to go to it to listen to what other people have to say. I also thought it would be a nice way to make new friends. I got late at work, and ended up hurrying down to the library and caught a glimpse of the discussion winding down. About 8 people were gathered around a table, with coffee and snacks. So much for hoping to make new friends, they all just happened to be in the age range of 60 years or so, and friendless as I am in this new city, I wasn't about to join the geriatric club yet. I observed silently, and could see routine expressions. One person's face looked grave and serious while narrating something, and the other 7 around the table had a permanent ":o" expression stuck on their face. Of course, they were horrified to read about how women are treated, violated, exploited in "aff-gan-ees-tan". I could see how this book could've become a success in the West- how everyone found it "stunning" and "heart-warming" and all that and more. Frankly, I thought it was a glorified soap opera with its moments of literary creativity and beauty. I do think it will make a great movie. A long, sad, tear-jerker that I am not going to go to.


Sujatha said...

Have you been to the Italian Market yet? If not, do go. I had a blast.

musafir said...

hi tgfi

there is one more book 'Kite
Runner' by the same author. i found it worth reading.

shub said...

hey funny how what you said in the last part about it making for a great movie was exaaactly what I thought when I read the Kite runner. It was fast paced and all that, but too 'filmy'. Perfect movie material! Was thinking of reading a thousand splendid suns anyway, now I'm doing a rethink.

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Hey, the Kite Runner is sure worth a read.. somewhat filmy.. but kinda sad.. i am a sucker for tears, what the hell :)

Veo Claramente said...

I enjoyed it, but it was really melodramatic. like a soap ope3ra, everyone loves them. especially the end.

Disliked the Kite Runner though.

Sakshi said...

I liked the Kite runner hated this.
And I would not go to the movie either!
Btw- hows the job?

bubbles said...

I luved kite runner too. You have to read it

akhil said...

I'd suggest you read, 'Half Of a Yellow Sun', ... it's a good book. Haven't completed my reading, though, but ... I liked what I read! :)

Anonymous said...

Its funny how we hate to people stereotyping ‘US’ but are happy to stereotype others. What wrong with what you call geriatrics. They are the same as everyone else but have a wealth of experience to boot. Do you know what a book club is? You didn’t like the book so you went to a book club ‘TALK’ about it? It is clear you just wanted to belittle the people there.

Your critique of the book is absolutely puzzling! You think it should be made a film. But you wouldn’t watch it (;-!).

Its funny as an Asian woman I feel more empathy from western women than I do of my own kind.

Maybe that’s why so many atrocities are committed by men to women with the full support dare I say women similar to yourself.

Of course you wouldn't like the book. It's about sisterhood and love between the two.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hello anonymous,

1) No stereotyping here. I mention in this post that my idea of going to the book club was also in the hope to make some friends in a new city. Thats where the fact that all the people there were over 60 years of age comes in, I was looking out for friends more in my age bracket. Thats just a personal choice - I have nothing against them and don't think any less of them.

I didn't like the book but was curious to see what others had to say. What is so wrong with that? I don't know where you got that idea from "just wanted to belittle people there" because really, why would i care about them- I have never met them in my life!

Yeah, the book has all the melodramatic twists and turns that would make for a good movie.. "good" as in staple movie. As a rule, I do not enjoy melodrama so I wouldn't go watch it.

You are making rather extreme and unsupported judgments here about my empathy or lack thereof towards the issue of how women are treated. I do not even discuss that aspect of the story in this post. I have discussed the book for its ability to be a good read, and found it lacking for being over dramatic. I thought all aspects of the story were stretched out beyond my tolerance. Again, I just do not have the stomach for melodrama.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I respect your opinion and all, but honestly, being overly dramatic is not a good enough reason. Of course, it's dramatic. It's about women don't think that actually happens to women. Yes, it is over dramatic ... too much so that men still do it...but that's how life is for women in the developing parts of the world my dear.