Hosseini's brilliant sophomore novel is powerfully bittersweet as he places two haunting protagonists inside the perilous history of the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Mariam, the elder, and Laila provide a distinctly female view of over 30 years' of apparent change and suffering in a war-torn country and a small neighborhood. Their individual stories collide and intersect in a poignant tale of rivalry, danger, sacrifice, and love. This program is masterfully performed by Atossa Leoni as she transports the listener into an unblinking world. Highly recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny-There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten-is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Unimaginably tragic, Hosseini's magnificent second novel is a sad and beautiful testament to both Afghani suffering and strength. Readers who lost themselves in The Kite Runner will not want to miss this unforgettable follow-up."