- Tracy McPeck
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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: "Raised in poverty by her unwed epileptic mother and married off early by the rich, elegant father who has always kept her at arm's length, Mariam would seem to have little in common with well-educated and comfortably raised young Laila. Yet their lives intertwine dramatically in this affecting new novel from the author of The Kite Runner, who proves that one can write a successful follow-up after debuting with a phenomenal best seller. As Mariam settles in Kabul with her abusive cobbler husband, smart student Laila falls in love with friend Tariq. But she loses her brothers in the resistance to Soviet dominion and her parents in a bombing just as the family prepares to flee the awful violence. Simply to survive, she becomes the second wife of Mariam's husband and is bitterly resented by the older woman until they are able to form the bond that serves as the heart of this novel. Then the Taliban arrive." (Library Journal Review)
If you like A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, you may also like these selections:
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Two parallel stories of fundamentalist Mormon polygamy unfold from the perspectives of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th rebel wife of Mormon founder Brigham Young, and present-day Jordan Scott, whose mother has been accused of murdering his polygamist father. Jordan enlists the help of supporters to uncover the mystery of who murdered his father, despite the fact he was excommunicated from the church when he was fourteen. In a similar vein, Ann Eliza Scott pressured the Mormon Church to ban polygamy, which was accomplished in 1890. The 19th Wife is a suspenseful, detailed look at polygamy in the past and present.
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
An intricate story of a Chinese mother and her American-born daughter.
Writer Ruth is struggling to care for her mother, Lu Ling, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Concerned over her mother's health and erratic behavior, Ruth reluctantly consents to have her mother's journals translated into English at Lu Ling's request. The translation uncovers an entire life unknown to Ruth, as Lu Ling's journey from innocent young woman to brave survivor unfolds. Lu Ling emerges from a background of family secrets and lies, heartbreak, and suffering in wartime China to establish a life in America.
The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Kathy Nicolo is a recovering addict whose husband has left her. When her house in California is mistakenly seized for nonpayment of taxes, it is auctioned off and Kathy is forced to live in her car. Meanwhile, the house is purchased by Behrani, a formerly wealthy, powerful man in Iran, now a struggling immigrant, who hopes to resell the house for profit. The collision of the hard-luck American woman and authoritative Iranian knocks aside any consideration for ethics, logic, and the law as the two battle for the house, with drastic and unexpected results.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. (Catalog summary)
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades. (Catalog summary)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus , Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love. (Catalog summary)
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the city of Enugu, Nigeria, fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, lead a privileged life. Their Papa is a wealthy and respected businessman; they live in a beautiful house; and they attend an exclusive missionary school. But, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, their home life is anything but harmonious. Her father, a fanatically religious man, has impossible expectations of his children and wife, and severely punishes them if they're less than perfect. Home is silent and suffocating. When Kambili's loving and outspoken Aunty Ifeoma persuades her brother that the children should visit her in Nsukka, Kambili and Jaja take their first trip away from home. Once inside their Aunty Ifeoma's flat, they discover a whole new world. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins' laughter rings throughout the house. Jaja learns to garden and work with his hands, and Kambili secretly falls in love with a young charismatic priest. When a military coup threatens to destroy the country and Kambili and Jaja return home changed by their newfound freedom, tension within the family escalates. --BOOK JACKET.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Filled with passion, love, anguish, and betrayal, The Red Tent brings to life the Old Testament story of Jacob and Leah from the viewpoint of their only daughter, Leah. Leah is raised by her loving mother and sisters, learning the arts of midwifery and homemaking, entering monthly the red tent, which becomes a symbol of female strength and wisdom. The story of Jacob's courtship of Rachel and Leah, as well as Dinah's experiences, is rich with detail and often heartbreaking, but well worth the read.
The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
A passionate and timely debut about mothers and daughters, roots and exile, from the streets of Iran to the suburbs of London In what is certain to be one of the most talked-about fiction debuts of the year, Yasmin Crowther paints a magnificent portrait of betrayal and retribution set against a backdrop of Iran’s tumultuous history, dramatic landscapes, and cultural beauty. The story begins on a blustery day in London, when Maryam Mazar’s dark secrets and troubled past surface violently with tragic consequences for her pregnant daughter, Sara. Burdened by guilt, Maryam leaves her comfortable English home for the remote village in Iran where she was raised and disowned by her father. When Sara decides to follow her she learns the price that her mother had to pay for her freedom and of the love she left behind. (Catalog summary)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
In nineteenth century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The two women exchange messages written on silk fans and handkerchieves using nu shu, a unique language that women created in order to communicate in secret, sharing their experiences, but when a misunderstanding arises, their friendship threatens to tear apart. (Catalog summary)
Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
Set in Afghanistan during the Taliban's rule, this novel features Atiq; his sickly wife, Mousarrat; and an educated woman, Zunaira, who winds up in prison and is sentenced to death for the accidental killing of her husband, Mohsen. Atiq is one of the fortunate citizens who, because of his status as a veteran in the Russian war, is still useful to the Taliban as a jailer of moral transgressors. Zunaira's story, in particular, dramatizes the plight of the countless Afghanis who endured the prolonged medieval code of conduct when the Taliban was in power.
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
A rich portrayal of the Italian resistance to German occupation during the last two years of WWII. In a small coastal village in northwest Italy, 43,000 Jews are saved by the Italians while living under the oppression of the occupying Germans. The story of the Italian experience unfolds with multiple story lines, including that of a Jewish French family escaping their country to find refuge in Italy, and a Nazi deserter who confesses to having murdered over ninety thousand Jews during his career. Russell chronicles the experiences of her well-developed characters honestly and without glossing over the horrors of war.