A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is superbly written, has a page-turning story, and will help your book club learn more about Afghanistan. Use these book club discussion questions to probe deeper into the story.
Spoiler Warning: These book club discussion questions reveal important details from the novel. Finish the book before reading on!
- What did A Thousand Splendid Suns teach you about the history of Afghanistan? Did anything surprise you?
- Mariam's mother says: "Women like us. We endure. It's all we have." In what ways is this true? How do Mariam and Laila endure? How is their endurance different from the ways their mothers faced their trials?
- Several times Mariam passes herself off as Laila's mother. In what way is their relationship like mother-daughter? How did their own relationships with their mothers shape how they treated each other and their family?
- What is the significance of Laila's childhood trip to see the giant stone Buddhas above the Bamiyan Valley? Why did her father take her on this trip? How did his influence shape the way Laila would cope with her future?
- Afghanistan changes rulers several times in the story. During the Soviet occupation, the people felt life would be better once the foreigners were defeated. Why do you think the quality of life deteriorated after the occupation rather than returning to the way it was in the pre-communist era?
- When the Taliban first enter the city, Laila does not believe women will tolerate being forced out of jobs and treated with such indignity. Why do the educated women of Kabul endure such treatment? Why are the Taliban accepted?
- The Taliban forbid "writing books, watching films, and painting pictures;" yet the film Titanic becomes a sensation on the black market. Why would people risk the Taliban's violence to watch the film? Why do you think this particular film became so popular? How does Hosseini use films throughout the novel to symbolize relationships between people and the state of the country (i.e. Jalil's theater, Tariq & Laila's outings to the movies)?
- Were you surprised when Tariq returned? Had you suspected the depth of Rasheed's deceit?
- Why does Mariam refuse to call witnesses at her trial? Why didn't she try to escape with Laila and Tariq? Do you think Mariam made the right decision? Even though her life was hard, Mariam wishes for more of it in the end. Why do you think that is?
- Do you think Laila and Tariq can be happy?
- Afghanistan is still in the news a lot. Do you think the situation will truly improve there?
- Rate A Thousand Splendid Suns on a scale of 1 to 5.