I just finished reading Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons. Next on my reading list is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kahled Hosseini. This is one of the best literary pairings I’ve come across in a long time. The two books share many traits, beyond the obvious astronomical references in the titles. This is the second book for both authors, each of whom uses a vivid language to tell a compelling story. Each of the protagonists suffer multiple injustices. Both are rejected by their families, and have their childhoods shortened by the need to survive on their own.
Like Frazier’s first novel, Cold Mountain, Thirteen Moons is set in the Western North Carolina mountains. The story is written as an autobiography, as Will Cooper reflects over his long life in first person. Beginning with his childhood, he is bonded to a trading post owner at age twelve, then forced to make his own way, eventually being adopted into the local Cherokee family. Cooper ties his fate with the Cherokee, as they are forced to endure the Removal and Trail of Tears. Frazier gives Cooper the language of the mid-nineteenth century, adding an air of authenticity to his tale. As with Cold Mountain, imagery is everything, bringing to life the simplest of scenes with their descriptions.
Hosseini is as firmly tied to Afghanistan as Frazier is to North Carolina, and describes his homeland just as vividly. Young Mariam is the daughter of a rich merchant and his housekeeper. Mariam and her mother are hidden outside of the town to keep the merchant from his shame. When Mariam’s mother dies, the father and his "legitimate" family rejects her, and arranges a marriage to a man in a far town who believes in traditions, especially the role of women complete with burkas. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with A Thousand Splendid Suns, but it promises to be just as compelling as Thirteen Moons.
[tags]authors, novels, Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Kahled Hosseini[/tags]