A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

834713Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are forced to live together. At first Mariam feels suspicious and jealous towards Laila, but as they endure ever escalating dangers around them – in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul – they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.

Khaled Hosseini is one of those authors that almost every literary fiction reader is familiar with and you’re almost supposed to feel ashamed when you haven’t read his work, so I always planned to pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner at some point, but I knew it would be a long term goal.

That was before I got into audiobooks. This book was one of the very few unabridged – seriously, why would anyone want an abridged version? – stories they had at my local library, so I wasn’t left with much choice. I wasn’t particularly excited as I expected it to be too literary and ambitious for my taste.

Not only did I go into A Thousand Splendid Suns with low expectations, the conditions in which I listened to it were far from ideal. I reserve audiobooks strictly for whenever I’m driving the car. While it’s great entertainment during a rather boring activity, it does require focus on two things at once: the road and the book. Easy enough with a light read, but less so with a more complex story.
Moreover, I was given a damaged copy that faltered on a number of occasions and eventually skipped parts of the book.

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Favourites: Spring 2017

Spring sadly has ended once again. While I do think that every season has its charm, I’ve always had a soft spot for spring. In part because it’s the time of year when everything comes back to life. Colour returns to the flowers and the trees, the animals wake up from hibernation and even us humans tend to feel happier when spring comes around. Well, I know I do.
It’s usually also the time of year that Belgium is blessed with sunny, yet bearable weather. Nothing like the heatwave temperatures we’re having right now. While I do enjoy summer – the sun always makes my day – , I don’t like the mercury to rise above 30 degrees Celsius.

Today, just as summer kicks off, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve been enjoying in the past months.

First of all let’s spread some love for a BBC 3 documentary called Queer Britain. It is presented by Youtuber and journalist Riyadh Khalaf and tackles a wide variety of topics relevant to homosexuality in Britain. According to BBC 3 there are currently six episodes available to watch for free on its Youtube channel, although that might not be correct. I, for one, couldn’t find the fifth episode.
The documentary is not only eye-opening, it also deals with subjects you might not have known were an issue. The third episode, for example, is about homelessness. According to a statistic one in four young homeless people in the UK is LGBTQ, so that’s definitely something that needed to be adressed. Just like in the episode on religion Riyadh Khalaf does a wonderful job portraying heartbreaking life stories, without turning it into cheesy X Factor sob stories.
If you don’t feel committed to watch the entire documentary, I’d suggest you watch either the first (on religion) or the third episode (on homelessness). It’ll be worth your time, I promise.

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