Sitzbook Review: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini


Hi everyone! In the next few days I’ll post a few really short quotes and reviews of books from last year’s Sitzbook book-a-week project. I originally started about a half-dozen posts with a few notes from some of the books I was reading, but I ran out of time and never actually wrote the full posts. So these will be like lightning reviews.

First up is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I liked the book, much as I liked The Kite Runner a few years ago, also by Hosseini. The story was a bit bleak for a lot of it, but it did end with a slightly hopeful note.

The one thing that stood out to me is that the author did that annoying thing where he constantly included foreign words, only to translate them in the next sentence. Here’s a brief example from page 129/130:

“You’re staying for lunch?” Tariq said.
“You have to,” said his mother. “I’m making shorwa.
“I don’t want to be a mozahem.”
“Imposing?” Tariq’s mother said. “We leave for a couple of weeks and you turn polite on us?”

I’m sure Pashto is a nice language, but I don’t really need to learn another language, especially not a smattering of random words, and the technique of defining the words actually becomes a bit distracting at times. Sure, if it’s something like shorwa, I can get it from the context that it’s food, and if I’m really curious I can look it up. But there doesn’t seem to be any use to putting the word for “imposing” in Pashto.

Anyhow, just a minor annoyance in a generally good book.

Stay tuned for more quick reviews!

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4 thoughts on “Sitzbook Review: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

  1. I just read The Kite Runner this past year, too. I’d read A Thousand Splendid Suns a few years back and thought nothing else Hosseini wrote could possibly measure up, but at the end of KR I was sorry that book was finished, too, just like I was with TSS. I thought they both ended with a note of hope, but maybe moreso in TSS because she’s finally found her perfect purpose/happiness when she sacrifices herself for someone else. How ironic is that–the death ending was happier than the life goes on one? Wow–I’m a really demanding reader!

    Enjoying all your book reviews. I haven’t written one in a long time….

    • That’s an interesting take/comment about the two endings. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but I kinda like your interpretation. I think it also moved TSS up in my mind a bit.

      Thanks for the comments!

  2. You have to thing about the importance for the author to preserve his own language. Furthemore, somethings, like an specific food is better when you write in its own language. Some words can’t be “translated”, if you got it…

    • Hi Jessica,

      Sure, I agree with that about the food. However, he was definitely able to translate “mozahem” because literally the next word in the story was the translation, haha! And it was a pretty common occurrence.

      In any case, I know that there’s a logic and reason behind using words in other languages, but this book seemed to move more towards overdoing it with the Pashto words. I only say that because they almost always were immediately followed with the translated form, which makes me wonder why he didn’t just use the translation in the first place.

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