What are some similarities and differences between A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator


1. Both are written by men who grew up outside of the United States and who emigrated and worked in the U.S. for a period of time (Khaled Hosseini still resides in the U.S., but Chinua Achebe returned to his native country of Nigeria and teaches there).

2. Both works feature very unique cultures which struggle when other cultures (countries) invade (militarilily or economically) their lands. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, the Soviet invasion and withdrawal actually causes the Afghan culture to regress in time and civilization, and in Things Fall Apart, the "invasion" of Christians and other cultures forces the people of Umuofia to question their own traditions.

3. The novels feature fathers who are conflicted about their relationships with their children. In Suns, Mariam's father seems to want to have a relationship with his illegitimate daughter, but then isolates her from the rest of his family and forces her into a horrible marriage. Similarly, in Things, Okonkwo wavers between trying to please and truly knowing his children to committing acts that distance him from his children.


1. Suns focuses on the oppression of women under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.  Neither Mariam or Laila have much say in how they live, where they go, or what they do.  They certainly do not hold the prestigious position that Okonkwo does in Things as a leader of his people.

2. The people of Suns have no choice in adopting the Taliban culture.  It is physically and brutally forced upon them. In contrast, the people of Umuofia become interested in outside culture and tradition while Okonkwo is away.  For them, the new culture does not represent physical punishment or execution if they do not adopt it.

3. Hosseini's work takes place in a country that is still in great upheaval and that went from a cultural and economic Golden Age to the dismal, isolated times of the Taliban.  Nigeria (or Umuofia) is the opposite.  Even though the country still continues to struggle economically, during the time period of Things, the country was a developing country with hope in the future not buried in the past.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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