Hosseini's 2007 novel chronicles thirty years of Afghan history through a story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation of love. Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them, both in their home and on the streets of Kabul, they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other. A Thousand Splendid Suns shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love that helps one to survive.
About the novel and its protagonists, Hosseini expressed the following thoughts in an interview: "I had been entertaining the idea of writing a story of Afghan women for some time after I'd finished writing The Kite Runner. That first novel was a male-dominated story. All the major characters, except perhaps for Amir's wife Soraya, were men. There was a whole facet of Afghan society which I hadn't touched on in The Kite Runner, an entire landscape that I felt was fertile with story ideas... In the spring of 2003, I went to Kabul, and I recall seeing these burqa-clad women sitting at street corners, with four, five, six children, begging for change. I remember watching them walking in pairs up the street, trailed by their children in ragged clothes, and wondering how life had brought them to that point...I spoke to many of those women in Kabul. Their life stories were truly heartbreaking... When I began writing A Thousand Splendid Suns, I found myself thinking about those resilient women over and over. Though no one woman that I met in Kabul inspired either Laila or Mariam, their voices, faces, and their incredible stories of survival were always with me, and a good part of my inspiration for this novel came from their collective spirit."
Although critics hesitate to label it world literature, A Thousand Splendid Suns is widely regarded as a work that captures the strength and spirit of women, especially those repressed by military and male counterparts. The real women that Hosseini met, and the history of the Taliban's reign in Afghanistan, bring to light a deeply moving piece of literature revolving around multiple generations and viewpoints.
"A dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable." -Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
"Just in case you're wondering whether Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns is as good as The Kite Runner, here's the answer: No. It's better." -Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
"Achingly beautiful." -USA Today
"Hosseini is skilled at telling a certain kind of story, in which events that may seem unbearable - violence, misery and abuse - are made readable. He doesn't gloss over the horrors his characters live through, but something about his direct, explanatory style and the sense that you are moving towards a redemptive ending makes the whole narrative, for all its tragedies, slip down rather easily." -Natasha Walter, The Guardian
"Love may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider the war-ravaged landscape of Afghanistan. But that is the emotion—subterranean, powerful, beautiful, illicit, and infinitely patient—that suffuses the pages of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. As in his best-selling first novel, The Kite Runner, Hosseini movingly examines the connections between unlikely friends, the fissures that open up between parents and children, the intransigence of quiet hearts." -Cathleen Medwick, "O", the Oprah Magazine