Excerpt: 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'

Khaled Hosseini, author of 'The Kite Runner,' has a new book.

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 21, 2007, 4:38 PM

May 22, 2007 — -- Khaled Hosseini became an international sensation with his first novel, "The Kite Runner."

Now, the Afghan-American novelist has a new book that promises to be as moving as his first. Another tale of Afghanistan in turmoil, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," covers three decades of civil war and Taliban tyranny from the perspective of two women, Mariam and Laila.

With lyrical writing that paints a portrait in readers' minds, Hosseini weaves a tale destined to be as popular as "The Kite Runner."

Here's an excerpt from "A Thousand Splendid Suns."

Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays, the day when Jalil visited her at the kolba. To pass the time until the moment that she would see him at last, crossing the knee-high grass in the clearing and waving, Mariam had climbed a chair and taken down her mother's Chinese tea set. The tea set was the sole relic that Mariam's mother, Nana, had of her own mother, who had died when Nana was two. Nana cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece, the graceful curve of the pot's spout, the hand-painted finches and chrysanthemums, the dragon on the sugar bowl, meant to ward off evil.

It was this last piece that slipped from Mariam's fingers, that fell to the wooden floorboards of the kolba and shattered.

When Nana saw the bowl, her face flushed red and her upper lip shivered, and her eyes, both the lazy one and the good, settled on Mariam in a flat, unblinking way. Nana looked so mad that Mariam feared the jinn would enter her mother's body again. But the jinn didn't come, not that time. Instead, Nana grabbed Mariam by the wrists, pulled her close, and, through gritted teeth, said, "You are a clumsy little harami. This is my reward for everything I've endured. An heirloom-breaking, clumsy little harami."

At the time, Mariam did not understand. She did not know what this word harami—bastard—meant. Nor was she old enough to appreciate the injustice, to see that it is the creators of the harami who are culpable, not the harami, whose only sin is being born. Mariam did surmise, by the way Nana said the word, that it was an ugly, loathsome thing to be a harami, like an insect, like the scurrying cockroaches Nana was always cursing and sweeping out of the kolba.