Friday, October 19, 2007

A Thousand Spendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I think everyone has or is reading this book. It is wonderful. I have read that many think it is better than Hosseini's first book, The Kite Runner. Personally, I liked The Kite Runner better, but it was close.

This one is about women in Afghanistan. There are plenty of places to go for a plot summery, so if you are interested in that, check it out on Amazon.

What I want to emphsis about this book is the history the author so wonderfully wove into the story. I felt absolutly stupid as I read that I didn't know more of the history of this country than I did. We went to war there, and our army is still there "peacekeeping." You would think I would have a better handle on the history of a place where my nephew was stationed in the army. But I did not. I am glad to have read this book for that reason alone.

And I knew about the really apalling treatment of some women in this part of the world, but this novel really brings it home. At one point in the story a husband makes his wife chew stones because he thinks his rice is undercooked. She breaks her teeth. I shudder. Things like this make parts of the book really hard to read. But there is a lesson here and I wish ....I don't know what I wish. Maybe that more people would read the book? It is a hard thing not to be able to change things but knowledge is power they say. There is my rant for the day.

Read this book.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I love love love this book. It is exceedingly beautiful. The language is so gorgeous I wanted to just sink into it and never come out.

The story is told by Trond Sander a 67 year old man, recently moved to a remote cabin in the soon to be winterland of Norway, and his recollections of a summer with his father in another remote cabin where things happen to change his life forever. Much of that story is based on WWII and its aftermath. The current story is tied to the past in unexpected ways and the whole tapestry is a portrait of a life defined by an event.

This is not a sweeping saga, it is very controlled. And therein lies its pleasure. I was surprised by things that happened in this story, but it all felt inevitable. I liked Trond very much even though he was still a man who was "becoming." I think this book should be read without knowing much about it because it has moments that will indeed take your breath away.

It is a translation from the Norwegian and the translator is also a poet. I think that shows in the beauty of her construction.

Get this book!! Read it and tell others to read it. It deserves a wide audience.