Khaled Hosseini has achieved fame through two of his novels based on life in a war torn Afghanistan, where he was born and brought up- The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, of which the former is adapted to a successful movie. While nothing extra ordinary can be told about the literary value of the works, what makes them special is the human emotions displayed. The development of the story is solid, narration crisp and the quick pace keeps up your interest till the end.
Kite runner tells the story of repentance of an Afghan immigrant, Amir. He was the son of a wealthy and courageous Pashtun merchant. His close friend is his Hazara servant, Hassan, who is the best kite runner in town. To get the respect of his father, Amir betrays his friend in a competition. The guilt eats him and to escape, he causes the expulsion of Hassan and his father from his home. Later when Soviet invades Afghanistan and topples monarchy, Amir and his father runs away from home and migrate to US. Years later the crime he did to his friend haunts him and Amir return to Kabul to find him and do justice.
The guilt of Amir, the innocence of Hassan and the bravery of Baba are the strong points in the novel. Khaled Hosseini tries to visualize the Kabul he is familiar with, but fails in doing justice to it. When you read the novels by Kazantzakis, you can discover a Greek even in a crowd. Or an Egyptian if you have read Naguib Mahfouz. But Hosseini just generalizes certain Afghan traits and never bothers to show how being Afghan makes them react in the way they are. At some points, over dramatization and too much coincidences mar the beauty of the narrative. Like the entry of an adult Assef in the climax. Appears like the villains in some old Hindi movies.
But in A thousand splendid suns, Hosseini corrects these faults to a certain extent. It is more tightly woven and the history also becomes a character here. This one is the story of two women- Mariam and Laila, who are the extremes but by a quirk of fate becomes married to the same man, a much older Rasheed. The novel sincerely portraits the uglied face of Afghanistan by the rule of different political ideologies. Each change is thought to be a new beginning, but chaos settles in very fast. Monarchy, Soviets, Mujahideen and Taliban, all comes and goes altering the lives of all involved. The hardships faced by females in the acute male dominated society is described in a very matured manner.