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Rachel-K
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Re: Is this discussion over? Spoiler Alert. My favorite passages.



Sunltcloud wrote:
Good question. Usually a moderator will give a book discussion group an occasional boost by directing the readers' interest toward a variety of observations; in some groups there are weekly thought-provoking questions. I don't think this group had a good start. Maybe the subject matter is too serious, too painful to discuss. Little seems to have been analyzed so far, other than the plight of the women in Afghanistan.

Mr. Hosseini's writing is filled with poetic, very strong, artfully told passages. Before this discussion is really over I have several "favorite" paragraphs to share.

The first one is on page 130. Laila is concerned that her mother might commit suicide after her sons die in the war.
"Mammy was soon asleep, leaving Laila with dueling emotions reassured that Mammy meant to live on, stung that she was the reason. She would never leave her mark on Mammy's heart the way her brothers had, because Mammy's heart was like a pallid beach where Laila's footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves of sorrow that swelled and crashed, swelled and crashed."

Another one is a haunting indictment of war, on page 157.
"Morning brought no relief. The muezzin's call for namaz rang out, and the Mujahideen set down their guns, faced west, and prayed. Then the rugs were folded, the guns loaded, and the mountains fired on Kabul, and Kabul fired back at the mountains, as Laila and the rest of the city watched as helpless as old Santiago watching the sharks take bites out of his prize fish.

On page 290 a sad reflection. Aziza, in the orphanage, tries to hide her loneliness by telling her mother about the things she has learned, for instance about fractures in the earth's crust.
"Later, after Rasheed had dropped them off and taken a bus to work, Laila watched Aziza wave good-bye and scuff along the wall in the orphanage back lot. She thought of Aziza's stutter, and of what Aziza had said earlier, about fractures and powerful collisions deep down and how sometimes all we see on the surface is a slight tremor."

War, in my eyes, has the worst effect on children. I endured a bomb attack in the industrial North of Germany, after which many people fled their burning homes and were packed into the lobby and hallways of a hotel my mother and I stayed in. That night my mother comforted a crying baby with my only toy, a stuffed white rabbit. The next morning the refugees were taken to another location and I never saw my stuffed rabbit again. At the age of 40 I began to stitch a series of rabbits of all sizes, at least 50 of them; I gave them all names and characters,made up a story, and finally gave them all away to a homeless shelter. When I told my mother about this two-year project she started to cry and told me about the night of the bomb attack. I didn't know because I was only three, too young to remember. My "slight surface tremors" had morphed into stuffed animals.

Page 295 caught my attention because it shows the way people sometimes handle adversity with humor. Survival humor. Tariq talks about paintings of flamingos that a friend had done.
"When the Taliban had found the paintings, Tariq said, they'd taken offense at the birds' long, bare legs. After they'd tied the cousin's feet and flogged his soles bloody, they had presented him with a choice: Either destroy the paintings or make the flamingos decent. So the cousin had picked up his brush and painted trousers on every last bird. 'And there you have it. Islamic flamingos,' Tariq said."

Mr. Hosseini was asked if there is a connection between Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He said no, but added that he had brought in a reminder of the Kite Runner toward the end of the book. I think I found the connection. I think it is Mr. Zaman, the head of the orphanage in which Aziza stayed and in which Laila becomes a teacher. The same orphanage that Ali came to, to pick up Hassan's orphaned son in Kite Runner.

aireloom, I hope the discussion isn't over, it should last at least for the month of August.



aireloom wrote:
Hello,
I am new to the B&N book clubs. I have yet to figure out the simpliest of things,but learning. Now is this discussion of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" over?I read the book but was not as impressed as with his first. I was hoping to get more from the discussions. Thank you






Your story is so moving! I love how this bit of comfort that was taken from you and given to another child resurfaced in you and you were compelled to recreate it (and give comfort again) so many times over! It's lovely.
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IBIS
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Re: Is this discussion over? Spoiler Alert. My favorite passages.

[ Edited ]



Sunlitcloud wrote:
On page 290 a sad reflection. Aziza, in the orphanage, tries to hide her loneliness by telling her mother about the things she has learned, for instance about fractures in the earth's crust.
"Later, after Rasheed had dropped them off and taken a bus to work, Laila watched Aziza wave good-bye and scuff along the wall in the orphanage back lot. She thought of Aziza's stutter, and of what Aziza had said earlier, about fractures and powerful collisions deep down and how sometimes all we see on the surface is a slight tremor."

War, in my eyes, has the worst effect on children. I endured a bomb attack in the industrial North of Germany, after which many people fled their burning homes and were packed into the lobby and hallways of a hotel my mother and I stayed in. That night my mother comforted a crying baby with my only toy, a stuffed white rabbit. The next morning the refugees were taken to another location and I never saw my stuffed rabbit again. At the age of 40 I began to stitch a series of rabbits of all sizes, at least 50 of them; I gave them all names and characters,made up a story, and finally gave them all away to a homeless shelter. When I told my mother about this two-year project she started to cry and told me about the night of the bomb attack. I didn't know because I was only three, too young to remember. My "slight surface tremors" had morphed into stuffed animals.




Sunltcloud, Thank you for this marvelous post.

That section on p. 290 also affected me personally. Your comment that war has the worst effect on children resonated with me, because I grew up in Cambodia, during the Pol Pot era. We lived in a small village without any military protection. Bands of ragged rebel soldiers (many of them brothers and fathers of our little village) would march in and expect us to feed them. We were already so poor that we couldn't even feed ourselves. My mother was so dehydrated she couldn't nurse my baby brother.

I was lucky to immigrate to the US, and am now a naturalized citizen. I am now an adult in Boston, and I suffer little tremors when I see bowls of rice being served. Either at home or in restaurants.

The powerful collisions of seeing friends give out meager supplies of rice to unmerciful rebel solders at the point of their rifles will always roil below the surface. My inner life will always be fractured by memories of war in a small unnamed village in Cambodia. As an adult today, 30 years later, I still shake at the memories.

Edited by Admin. for formatting only.

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-26-2007 02:43 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Is this discussion over? Spoiler Alert. My favorite passages.

Thank you for your post, IBIS. It must have been hard for you to tell us about this. It made me shiver as I read. My daughter spent two months in Vietnam last year and on a bus trip along the border with Cambodia, she and her Vietnamese friends stumbled on what she described as "one of the most graphic genocide museums in Asia." I believe it was Ba Chuc. Eighty-eight of the skulls belonged to females between the ages of sixteen and twenty, my granddaughter's age. I won't go into detail; I'm sure you know better than I, what she saw. I don't think she will ever forget it.

Even now I shiver when I hear an alarm because my childhood nights were filled with them. And during the first images of the fallen Twin Towers in New York on 9/11 I stood frozen in front of my television. Some pain can never be erased; often I am reminded of that when I see an old Jewish survivor of the holocaust cry during an interview. Young people here who have only been exposed to fictional terror on television will sometimes be surprised that emotional pain can last forever. For them I only wish that they will never encounter the real thing.
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greentrees
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Re: Afgan Fashion--the BURKA and Today's Women in Afghanistan

Chaser, thank you so much for your reply. It was wonderful to read your comments as well, and to know that you shared the very same feeling of "defeat" in Mariam's character.

I know many have spoken of the rebirth of life, if you will, in Laila and Aziza. While I don't disagree with that point, I also didn't want to lose sight of the fact that Khaled Hosseini created this character of Miriam to help us identify with human tragedy as seen through the innocent eyes of one strong and able woman. He does not deny in any way the truth of Mariam's life---born from the union of a wealthy, noted man and a woman some may describe as scorned. Mariam represents what can be lost in this society and what is, and the fate that lies before them, that undeniably cannot be changed, is not changed, till the very end. Yes, hope still surfaces---one shred (and only one shred) of hope that lives in two lives, Laila and Aziza---their memory of Mariam.
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greentrees
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Re: Is this discussion over? Spoiler Alert. My favorite passages.

IBIS, I was so touched by what you wrote..

Even after witnessing 9/11, 20 blocks away, and exactly ten days after my wedding day, going into a tall building is something beyond words for me. I can describe it in emotions which I feel. I read your note again and again, and I pictured what you wrote and I felt a deep feeling weigh inside. To know that something is so real to a person is really...well it's reality.

Thank you for sharing.
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lasharp24
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Re: Is this discussion over? Spoiler Alert. My favorite passages.

IBIS and Sunltcloud - thank you so very much for sharing your stories with us.

A few years back I read a book entitled "When Broken Glass Floats: Growing up under the Khmer Rouge". It was about a young child's memories and miraculous survival of that hell. To this day, this book lives with me.

I have a very difficult time understanding how people can be so wicked and cruel to one another. As Hilary Clinton so accurately wrote in her book "…voices of people in every corner of the globe want the same thing we do: freedom from hunger, disease and fear, freedom to have a say in their own destinies no matter their DNA or station in life." If that isn't the truth.

Where is the humanity; how do people become killing machines? However, I guess it is timeless - look at the holocaust. I guess it has been happening since the beginning of mankind, but I will never understand it.
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IBIS
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The evils of war in A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

[ Edited ]
lasharp24, you are so right... let's hope that we will never fully understand why otherwise kind people can behave so inhumanely in time of war. Let's hope that we never become so hardened by what we see on the news. It's a frightening possibility That good people become inured to the pain and suffering of others... for example, seeing refugee camps without a hitch to our breathing... seeing massive impersonal grave sites without it affecting us.

That's why books like "A THOUSAND SPLENDED SUNS" and "When Broken Glass Floats: Growing up under the Khmer Rouge" need to be written. And read.
We need these stories to remind us that the evils of war can creep on us, can become very banal... every-day things.

As Edmund Burke wrote: "The only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Message Edited by IBIS on 08-27-2007 02:00 PM
IBIS

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Sunltcloud
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Re: The evils of war in A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

Next month another book will be published that will give us insight into war and suffering. It is the diary of Dang Thuy Tram, a young Vietnamese woman, fresh out of medical school. She cares for wounded Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. The book is "Last Night I Dreamed of Peace." Barnes and Noble takes preorders. The book has been translated by Andrew Pham and Thong Van Pham (Andrew Pham wrote the highly interesting travel journal "Catfish and Mandala.) The author of the diary has been dead for 35 years; her journal had been rescued by an American soldier who recently donated it to the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

The book is a hit in Vietnam but is predicted to cause mixed reactions in American readers because Thuy has harsh words for US involvement in Vietnam. To me it is important to be open to all sides, war destroys humans no matter which side you are on. Just look how many wars Vietnam endured. Or Afghanistan.

I dwell quite often on the effects of war (especially on children) but more often I wonder why we don't seem to get away from brutality. In my opinion, as long as we train young people to take up arms and kill other human beings, we will not stop it. How can young soldiers be trained to kill the enemy and yet adhere to rules of engagement (like the Geneva Convention)? In order to incite them to be aggressive we feed them propaganda (I have seen words like "sand **bleep**" used in training camps) and we stir their patriotism into high gear. We make them endure the impossible and when they come home we neglect their emotional well-being.I simply cannot imagine that war doesn't impact later life for anybody who has killed, saw a buddy die, has shot a child by mistake, or has been personally injured by an enemy soldier.

The best short story about soldiers I have read is "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. One of the things they carried was fear. And then: "They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried." And later the admission: "They all carried ghosts." And there were other things they carried, like poise and panic and the memory of a dead friend: "It was the burden of being alive."
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greentrees
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Re: Afgan Fashion--the BURKA and Today's Women in Afghanistan

Hi rkubie, the novel is a hopeful one in that its voice is hopeful. After reading it, I felt very hopeful for Laila and the family she created, and I feel she was such an honorable person in every right. I think she represents what is hopeful about this novel because she is the character that survived. Because Laila was much younger than Miriam, she represented the youth of Afghanistan who believe that their country will survive its troubled past, but not just survive, it will shine like a star, like she shone like a star in the end. I was left feeling very hopeful that Laila's generation of people could and would make a difference simply because their life's belief is grounded in that hope. I loved this novel and the other one, and I don't think I have ever read anything else that has moved me so much and made me really think about everything and everyone Khaled Hosseini wrote about.

I also believe Khaled Hosseini wanted the world to know the truth, and this was his way of having a conversation (almost an interview) about his beloved Afghanistan. Bravo!

I hope he continues to write more...I really look forward to reading and discussing many other books together.

Happy Fall :smileyhappy:
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Rachel-K
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Re: The evils of war in A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

I want to thank you all for sharing your stories with us--they are very moving. While I've been reading here, I find myself noticing how the news can numb us to the idea of violence, even the drone of it seems to reinforce an unconcious notion that these are "normal" happenings "over there." But a novel, or a memoir, or a note from another person (as we have in this thread) does just the opposite, opens up our imaginations to the real individual suffering that happens, and makes us yearn to find a way to stop it.
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kiakar
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Re: The evils of war in A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS



rkubie wrote:
I want to thank you all for sharing your stories with us--they are very moving. While I've been reading here, I find myself noticing how the news can numb us to the idea of violence, even the drone of it seems to reinforce an unconcious notion that these are "normal" happenings "over there." But a novel, or a memoir, or a note from another person (as we have in this thread) does just the opposite, opens up our imaginations to the real individual suffering that happens, and makes us yearn to find a way to stop it.





Oh! yes, a thousand times yes, if only we had the power, the knowledge, the insight to know the way, the word, the sign to stop "War." The ignorous of some nations not to visilize each person as their selves. They feel don't they, that is the villians of these countries, do they ever shed tears, feel pain. Why can't they feel this in others? Can't they see in mirrors, that they are the same as they are, human beings?
If only there was insight to how these villianous men see women so lowly? Even through teachings all of their lives, can't they see and feel when they become older.?

The only answer is to pray for guildance but still we as human beings are very impatient and judgemental so if we could erase some of that from our hearts maybe we could find a way to get to these villianous men. WE just pray for guildance that is all we can do.
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Chaser
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Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: The evils of war in A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

Thank you for your post, Sunltcloud. I have already checked out "Last Night I Dreamed of Peace," and added it to my reading list. Also, thank you for reminding me of "The Things They Carried." I have wanted to read that book for years now, and I think now in our current time of war, it would be especially relevant.

I agree that war leaves no one untouched. Even the soldiers that make it are casualties (though sometimes living ones), not to mention those civilians caught in the middle of conflict.

When I watched Fahrenheit 911 recently, I was so disturbed by the portion where the soldiers were gearing themselves up to go to wore. The things they said and the music they listened to "get focused" were pretty chilling to me. I don't know what we expect, though, when we put them in this situation. To guard themselves mentally, they too have to become inhuman. We destroy their humanity and turn our back on them when they return to everyday life. No one wins! It all seems so senseless.

I just destroys me to hear about the atrocities some of our soldiers have carried out on civilians - the only thing I can think is that they have gone through a densensitization process so great that they cannot make individual moral decisions. They cannot pull back the reins once they have started down the path. War may be sanctioned aggression, but it still has all the effects of criminality.



Sunltcloud wrote:
Next month another book will be published that will give us insight into war and suffering. It is the diary of Dang Thuy Tram, a young Vietnamese woman, fresh out of medical school. She cares for wounded Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. The book is "Last Night I Dreamed of Peace." Barnes and Noble takes preorders. The book has been translated by Andrew Pham and Thong Van Pham (Andrew Pham wrote the highly interesting travel journal "Catfish and Mandala.) The author of the diary has been dead for 35 years; her journal had been rescued by an American soldier who recently donated it to the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

The book is a hit in Vietnam but is predicted to cause mixed reactions in American readers because Thuy has harsh words for US involvement in Vietnam. To me it is important to be open to all sides, war destroys humans no matter which side you are on. Just look how many wars Vietnam endured. Or Afghanistan.

I dwell quite often on the effects of war (especially on children) but more often I wonder why we don't seem to get away from brutality. In my opinion, as long as we train young people to take up arms and kill other human beings, we will not stop it. How can young soldiers be trained to kill the enemy and yet adhere to rules of engagement (like the Geneva Convention)? In order to incite them to be aggressive we feed them propaganda (I have seen words like "sand **bleep**" used in training camps) and we stir their patriotism into high gear. We make them endure the impossible and when they come home we neglect their emotional well-being.I simply cannot imagine that war doesn't impact later life for anybody who has killed, saw a buddy die, has shot a child by mistake, or has been personally injured by an enemy soldier.

The best short story about soldiers I have read is "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. One of the things they carried was fear. And then: "They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried." And later the admission: "They all carried ghosts." And there were other things they carried, like poise and panic and the memory of a dead friend: "It was the burden of being alive."


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IBIS
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Re: Mariam's Character and Her Simple Faith

[ Edited ]
__________________________________________________________
rkubie wrote:

... I do love something about the picture of Miriam that we have---she was never really given anything, but was able to create a loving relationship... she picks herself up and creates a scrap of happiness for them as a family. ... she gives everything without hesitation, and when she's gone, those people she loved so dearly know exactly who she was, how strong she was. It's very moving for me, and it gives her character a nearly saintly stoicism. We may have been heartbroken by the story, but she never felt sorry for herself.

Did you feel there was anything hopeful about the novel overall?
______________________________________________________________

I agree that Mariam's character is a wonderful creation. To understand what gave her the courage and the strength to endure, we must recognize her strong inner life.

One vital and major ingredient in Mariam's makeup was her simple faith in Islam. Her "nearly saintly stoicism" was possible because of her prayers, and the spiritual strength they gave her. We must not underestimate the power of faith, and the strength her prayers gave her in her life.

(p.15) "Mullah Faizullah, the elderly village Koran tutor... came by once or twice a week... to teach Mariam the five daily NAMAZ prayers and tutor her in Koran recitation, just as he had taught Nana when she was a little girl."

And here is a touching connect with her spiritual life:

(p.229) "Two new flowers (Laila and Aziza) had unexpectedly sprouted in her life, and..Mariam...pictured Mullah Faizulla twirling his TASBEH beads,..and whispering to her in his soft, tremulous voice, "But it is God Who has planted them, Mariam Jo. And it his His Will that you tend to them. It is His will, my girl."

And a major gift Marian gives to Aziza are the prayers she had been taught as a child:

(p. 265)"...Mariam had started teaching Aziza verses from the Koran. Aziza could already recite by heart the surah of IKHLAS, the surah of FATIHA, and already knew how to perform the four RUQATs of morning prayer...

"It's all I have to give her," Mariam had said to Laila, "this knowledge, these prayers. They are the only true possession I've ever had."

We must never underestimate the power of prayers, and what a major ingredient it is in the lives of women like Mariam. It is a source of hope for her.

Message Edited by IBIS on 08-30-2007 11:48 AM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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