So it’s been a week since any update, which can be explained away by a sudden burst of gigs and then a music video shoot last night, but a couple of days ago I successfully finished surrendering myself to the fun of vexillology. That marks two down, and ninety eight to go! I’ll also stick to my previous assessment; whilst Tim Marshall’s latest offering is amusing and informative, it is essentially just a collection of anecdotes without too much geopolitical insight. I would certainly start with Prisoner’s of Geography before considering Worth Dying For.

However, sticking to my original plan of alternating between fiction and non-fiction, I’ve decided to return to Afghanistan for the third book in the challenge and start work on Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. I read “The Kite Runner” when I was sixteen and enjoyed it (as much as one can enjoy a bildungsroman about rape, displacement, and the Taliban, I guess). So, let’s see how Splendid Suns compares!

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My previous experience of Hosseini’s work, and discussing it with some of the Afghan people that I know, leads me to think that he offers a good perspectivised introduction to Afghanistani culture. Like Salman Rushdie, I also quite like the way he compares it to western mainstream culture in a way that is uncritical and balanced, and allows his readers to feel like they are inside something that they do not come from. On the other hand, where Splendid Suns is concerned, I am slightly sceptical about reading a book that seems to be marketed purely as being by the author of another, more successful, book.

– Simon James Chisholm

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