Archive for the ‘Khaled Hosseini’ Category

“I have a surprise for you”.


It was quite a surprise alright. My daughter’s family visited us yesterday and it was a day full of happy moments, exchanging ideas, talking about a small business which Kev has started, delving on life’s angst and yes, our talks were mostly about food.

The Kite Runner.

Back in 2003, Nissa and I encountered a new author with an equally lovely and beautiful book called The Kite Runner. The author Khaled Hosseini was born  in Kabul, Afghanistan and his family sought political asylum in the United States where he earned a medical degree. The Kite Runner, his first book was published in 2003 and has become an international bestseller and a beloved classic. Nissa bought me a copy. It was my first time to read an Asian author from war-torn Afghanistan. They released a movie adaptation back in 2007. Nissa and I watched it on the big screen when it was shown in Metro Manila and cried unashamedly while we watched it.  I remember giving the book  five-star on Goodreads.  To summarize it briefly, it is a heartbreaking story  of  friendship between  a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant.  It’s a story of redemption, friendship, betrayal and lies set against the political turmoil in Afghanistan.

And the nice surprise? Nissa gave me an original DVD copy and I am so excited to watch it again. Hosseini published two more books which are both equally good, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And The Mountains Echoed. If you  haven’t read nor watched The Kite Runner yet, perhaps you can give it a go and you will surely enjoy it.

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”


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I can’t believe April is almost gone.  The lazy bug caught me again and blogging has taken a backseat for a while. Gone are the times when the day is not complete without writing a few words and posting them here.  I feel comfortable now blogging once or twice a week but I still read posts/updates from friends every day.

You won’t believe this, I’ve become so obsessed with books lately that sometimes I laugh at myself how  I’m gonna read these books  that I have collected all these years and some  e-books that I have on my phone. Hugging a book close and the comfort of turning the pages, loving the scent and smell of the printed pages. Yesterday, I took note of the recommendations of Goodreads based on similar subjects that I have read before. Historical fiction, memoirs and contemporary books still top the list. There was even a time that I visited the list of the 1000 books you have to read before you die but I narrowed it down to the top 500 but not necessarily followed it to the letter. If that is not a book obsession, I don’t know what is.  They call it bibliomania 🙂 I haven’t gone that far yet…no….not yet.  I have a long list which I wrote in my notebook about new authors and new books that I want to read. I am trying to discover Asian authors and so far Khaled Husseini is the best although I found more names who are quite new in the field of writing.

I remember reading On Writing by Stephen King a few years ago, a book borrowed by Nissa from their Stress Management Office then found a brand new hardbound copy later  (still with the dust jacket on) in one of my trips to Booksale. Imagine the joy of finally owning a copy.  He said and I quote “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” “Reading in bed can be heaven, assuming you can get just the right amount of light on the page and aren’t prone to spilling your coffee or cognac on the sheets. ” That’s another line from Stephen King’s book and I laughed out loud when I read it before because it happened to me not just once but several times. At least it was just a glass of water and not a hot cup of coffee 🙂

When I encounter people who say that they are not fond of reading, I try to compose my facial expression not to frown and say “you are missing  a lot”.

P.S. Goodreads says I have read 28 books (56%) out of the 50 books that I challenged myself to finish this year. Maybe, I could add 10 more, what do you think?

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I must admit, there was quite a slack in my blogging lately.  I got so engrossed reading  and visiting some bookstores in search of  something on my wish list which is getting quite long.  Though I haven’t been successful in my quest, I was able to buy some treasures which I am excited to  read pretty soon.   I am almost done with The Red Pyramid, and will start on The Hunger Games next (I hope).  Don’t ask me why there was this sudden shift of reading genre.  Some of my friends who know I am into serious read would probably laugh that I now enjoy reading  books for teens, and kids for that matter.  Well, more than the entertainment values that I get from these, I feel like I am learning a new language.  I’ve never been a fan of Greek or Egyptian mythologies, they bore me no end but when I  started  a few pages of  The Lightning Thief and saw my daughter’s collections of the Vampire diaries, Blue Blood series, Cirque Du Freak  and a lot of books from authors I never heard before, I was a little intrigued.  Christopher Pike, yes, read a book or two several  years  ago, but there are now three thick books on Thirst. L. J. Smith, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Melissa Marr, and a Filipino-American author named Melissa dela Cruz  – haven’t heard of them until now.

Back when everyone was into reading  the Twilight series, I was never tempted to read one  although my daughter has a complete set of it.   How she raved about every book of Meyer, even to the point of asking NBS to reserve copies for her.  Out of curiosity, hubby and I watched the movie version of Eclipse  (a month ago I think, I can’t remember now),  which they say is the best of the three series shown, so far. But I was nodding my head off in the middle of the movie and my daughter chided me by saying that I always fall asleep while watching the big screen, so I told her it’s not my cup of tea.  I must tell you that  I enjoyed reading Harry Potter  and  watched every movie version of those books.   This sudden penchant for heroic-demigod-magical powers is altogether different though, I am learning Egyptology and little by little those quite unfamiliar names which I only used to see on crossword puzzles suddenly come to life.   Amazing!

And before you think that I’ve completely abandoned  reading  other books, you’ re wrong.  I’ve  found and purchased a lot of books too,  all additions to my growing TBR list.   Time and again, I would buy memoirs, I wonder why they fascinate me no end.  Frank  McCourt’s  Ti’s and Angela’s Ashes are favorites although I need to replace my previous copies because I wasn’t able to save them during the flood last year.  Had I been well enough to set aside the paperbacks, I would have done it but I was not allowed to sort the dirty piles  because at that time I was in the middle of my chemotherapy sessions. I recently bought  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls at a  twenty percent discount at NBS. I like  the description on the cover which reads, “The Glass Castle is the kind of story that keeps you awake long after the rest of the house has fallen asleep”. It is a memoir of resilience and redemption and a look into a dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant family where love still reigns despite the odds and all the peculiarities involved.  I am saving it for another rainy day.   I think it’s my fourth or fifth buy of   The  Prophet , the first three I got for some friends as gifts and my copy now is the smallest and the cheapest I could find.  Kahlil Gibran, the author of  The Prophet is a  Lebanese-American poet and philosopher and the book has been translated into more than 20 languages.  Back in college, I devoured almost every copy of his books even to the point of keeping a separate notebook of all the best quotations I could find.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – a complete and unabridged copy.  Come to think of it, I have forgotten the story of orphan Jane and the famous Mr. Rochester because the last time I’ve read this book, I was still in high school.  I never had the chance to reacquaint myself with the book until now.   I bought Ilustrado two months ago, got a good review from Blooey, one of my friends at Flip Flipping  Pages.  The Filipino author Miguel Syjuco, is a winner of  the 2008  Man Asia Literary Prize.  I have yet to discover how he writes because the book is still in its original plastic cover.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson – bought a copy at P625.00 at Bestsellers.   I’ve started reading this  about a month ago but it’s not the kind of book that you would want to finish in  one seating.   It’s a  true account  of mountaineer Greg Mortenson who drifted into a mountain village of Karakoram after a failed attempt to climb K2.   He was touched by the kindness shown by the inhabitants there and promised to return and build a school for the children.  

It is the astonishing , uplifting story of real-life Indiana Jones and his remarkable humanitarian campaign in the Taliban backyard. Just a quote from the book, “here in Pakistan, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die”. (Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan).  Eversince I’ve read Khaled Hosseini’s  The Kite Runner and  A Thousand Splendid  Suns, I was fascinated  by how the people live  in these Islamic countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I even saw a book entitled  Reading Lolita in  Tehran by Azar  Nafisi, another memoir,but that would be on another trip to NBS.  And who told you I am addicted to  memoirs?  I just did!

Life is not all memoirs though because in between reading these, I also managed to buy more books at less than a hundred pesos –  Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons, Andrew Greeley’s   Irish Linen.  Greeley is a Catholic priest and priests do write love stories. I’ve read several of his books in the past and I found  Cardinal  Sins the most controversial.  It’s about life in the Vatican written in fiction.  Nissa bought me some chick lit books and a couple of hardbound James  Patterson.

And to end this book blog which wonderfully reached a word count of 1101, let me quote  Isaac Barrow on how he views books:

He that loveth a book will never want for a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter

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“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”.

If Khaled Hosseini shines in The Kite Runner, he was even more brilliant as a writer in A Thousand Splendid Suns. And if I shed a tear or two reading the former, I cried buckets reading the latter. I like the simple prose that touches the heart. Once again, the setting was in Afghanistan, this time, Hosseini takes us to the last thirty three years of the country’s history of war and oppression through the eyes of two women with minute details that jump into you and seem so real. You also feel the pain and anguish as you read along and begins to hate the oppressors as much as the other characters in the book. Women in the old Afghanistan were forced into marriage at an early age. At the time of the communists’ rule back in the seventies, women were given the chance to be educated, they were more free and had more rights than they ever had before. But during the Taliban rule, they were not even allowed to practice their profession or to work, they cannot even leave their houses alone.

There were so many quotable quotes in the book but the lines that really moved me were these:

“She sat on the chair instead, hands limp in her lap, eyes staring at nothing, and let her mind fly on. She let it fly on until it found the place, the good and safe place, where the barley fields were green, where the water ran clear and the cottonwood seeds danced by the thousands in the air; where Babi was reading a book beneath an acacia and Tariq was napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she could dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams beneath the watchful gate of gods of ancient, sun-bleached rock.”

The book was divided into four parts. And here is a brief summary of the book:

Mariam grew up believing that she was an unwanted child, a harami, which means bastard, illegitimate, born to a rich father, Jalil and a mother, Nana, who was a housekeeper in her father’s house. Mother and daughter lived in an isolated place and they were occasionally visited and provided for by her father. When she turned fifteen, her father promised to take her to his cinema in Herat. Her mother pleaded with her not to go but she ventured all alone into town until she found her father’s house. She saw him looking out of the window but she was not allowed to enter the house. Upon her return, she found out that her mother hanged herself in their backyard.

She was not welcome in her father’s house so his three wives found a way to get rid of her by marrying her off to a man almost thirty years her senior. She vowed that from that time on, she will forget her father. She was taken by Rasheed to Kabul. At first, Rasheed was nice and cordial to her but when she lost the child she was carrying, the true colors of her husband showed. She was treated like a servant. The abuse worsened over the years through several failed pregnancies. She began to live a life of misery in the hands of her husband.

Laila was the daughter of Mariam’s neighbors. She was born during the turbulent years of the Soviets rule in Afghanistan. Her father Hakim, a school teacher valued education and told her that a society has no chance of success if its women are not educated. She did not get on much with her mother Tarifa whom she called Mammy. They were both “pretending, unenthusiastic partners”. She felt more at home with her childhood friend’s Tariq’s parents. Her world changed when her two soldier brothers died in combat. Ahmad and Noor were like lore to her – mere characters in a fable, kings in a history book. For young as she was(she was nine when they died), she felt so neglected by her Mammy who was the most affected by the death of her two sons. They fell more and more apart. Tarifa forgot that she still had a daughter who was a mere shadow in her sons’ existence, “the parchment on which Mammy meant to ink their legends”. She was not the reason why her mammy wanted to live on and she could never leave her mark on Mammy’s heart the way her brothers had.

A few months before Laila turned eleven, the Soviets finally left Afghanistan. The Mijahideen, the returning forces fighting the Soviets incited a civil war. Kabul was bombarded by rocket attacks. It was at this time that the two best friends Laila and Tariq grew closer and discovered their deep love for each other. Tariq’s family left Kabul and she was distraught when she learned that even her beloved Tariq (supposedly) died before crossing the border to Pakistan. Laila was the only one left when their house was bombarded by the rebels and she was pregnant with Tariq’s child. Rasheed, Mariam’s husband took care of her and offered marriage against the wishes of his wife. Rather than go hungry, without a future for her unborn child, she agreed despite the gap of almost forty six years. At first, Mariam resented Laila but through the times that they were mistreated and abused by their husband Rasheed, they finally forged a bond amidst all the hardships of making a life with the former. Mariam learned to love Laida’s children, they showed strength of character in a place where only violence and hunger prevailed. When she reached her 23rd birthday (they were now under Taliban rule), Tariq came back to her life and she learned that through the ten years that they were apart, Tariq spent some of it in prison. When Rasheed learned about this, he was so livid with anger and almost killed Laila in the process. Mariam, seeing red killed him to protect themselves from further hurt and pain. She did a great sacrifice for Laila’s sake and was hanged later. Laila, her daughter by Tariq Aziza and her son by Rasheed Zalmai crossed the border to Pakistan to live a new life but they came back to Kabul after the Taliban rule. Laila visited the place where Mariam was born and raised and there she discovered that Jalil afterall, loved her daughter very much and even wrote her a letter and left a small inheritance before he died.

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