1000 Splendid Valium
Write what you know. Better, write what you love.
Thats what a high school English teacher once told me. Funny, the seemingly innocuous details you recall as years go by. Something tells me that Khaled Hosseini must have had the same advice. The native Afghan knows Afghanistan; the history, the people, the details of countless personal tragedies. Obviously he cares and it comes out in every line and chapter; not so much with the sweeping grandeur of masters past but with an urgent, primal talent.
With all the time in the air I've had this month I managed to get through two books, both by Khaled Hosseini. I love his writing style. It is both broad-stroke history and small-village personal. His words have a cadence that build a familiar voice; quietly he describes an everyday situation which will usually end with a sledgehammer sentence, completely changing the course of the story and completely taking you by surprise - over and over again for the first time.
I liked his first, Kite Runner but I loved 1000 Splendid Suns. It is the equivalent of walking through a Holocaust museum; the characters and story are fantastically depressing. Every chapter you expect the ray of sunshine to emerge but every chapter there is more and more heartbreak, less equilibrium and dread that must be equivalent to living in the region during that time. Its not the book I would recommend if you cant compartmentalize, that is if you cant separate yourself emotionally from something at will. I think this is why most people I know who have read 1000 Splendid Suns, didn't like it; they couldn't get out of the emotional cloud to see Hosseini's beauty, which is simply that he feels the need to tell the stories that 1000s of people can no longer tell.