KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The deadliest insurgent attack since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 destroyed a bus full of police instructors at Kabul's busiest transportation hub on Sunday, killing 35 people and wounding 52, officials said.
This is a headline from the NY Times yesterday. As I finish the last few pages of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini (author of "The Kite Runner") I am struck by how the Afghani people are still living in war, much like they have been for the last several decades. Is it just my American naivite that lets me believe that things MUST have gotten at least a little better since 2001?
Note: if you would like a well written review of this book, see this article in the NY Times (why should I try to re-invent the wheel?)
When I read reports like this one and realize that the Taliban is gaining strength again, I can't help but think about the fictional stories I've read about the region. After reading "The Kite Runner" a couple of years ago, and other works since then like "The Bookseller of Kabul" and "The Swallows of Kabul", I have only just begun to understand what life is like for our sisters there. Clearly, it is not limited to Afghanistan, but since 9/11, that is where much of the focus has been; there and in Iraq. And now Iran.
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" tells the tale of two women from two different generations in Afghanistan whose lives become entangled. It is largely a story about Mothers and Daughters. It is also the story of the contrast between pre-soviet and then pre-taliban Afghanistan and what it is like after the oppression becomes all-consuming under Taliban rule.
The power in it for me, though, is knowing that stories like this one are still being lived, not just told.
It makes me sad. I am in awe of the resilience of the people who survive years, even generations of war and violence. I'm also struck by the history that has been lost to war; the art, architecture and spirit that is damaged or destroyed.
This book is a good, solid read. It gets deep into the story much quicker than "The Kite Runner" did and keeps you going...the end is a little slow. I think it goes on a little long after the key parts of the story are wrapped up. Kind of a neat and clean ending to an otherwise complex story. I tend to like endings that keep you wishing you knew what happened next.