Literature, a body of written works, has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution. It may be classified according to a variety of systems, including language, national origin, historical period, genre and subject matter.
Afghan Literature is emerging as a distinct genre with an identity of its own. Earlier Afghan literature was dominated by Persian language. Mughals were great patrons of Persian literature.
Afghan Literature is emerging as a distinct genre with an identity of its own. Earlier Afghan literature was dominated by Persian language. Mughals were great patrons of Persian literature. Afghanistan is not able to gain its true independence until 1919. The nation adopted a new constitution in 1964 that contemplated the creation of a parliamentary democracy. However, internal political strife led to coups in 1975 and 1978.
The second soup backed by the Soviet Union and seen as Pro-Russian and Anti-Islamic led to widespread uprisings.
Finally the Soviet Union is pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989. However what is left behind is a nation in civil war. One of the most evident factions has been the Taliban, a group that has imposed strict adherence to Islamic law. Under the Taliban, even Kabul the most westernized of Afghan cities was the site of human rights violations in the name of religious fundamentalism.
Early Afghan immigrants to the United States were from the upper class, highly educated and had trained in a profession. During the 1920s and 1930s the destinations of choice for highly educated Afghan immigrants were Washington and major cities on the East or West coast.
This pattern of residing in large urban centers has remained consistent for Afghans despite their reason for arrival or their socio-economic group. The strength of the Afghan people in America lies in their strong sense of family and tribal loyalty. Many Afghans chose to enter the United States because of their strong family connections. By the end of the 1990s, however, they were optimistic signs that many were achieving some measure of success while also maintaining ties to their cultural traditions.
To the Afghan people the most important social unit is not the nation but the family. An Afghan had obligations to both his and her immediate and extended families. The head of the family is unequivocally the father, regardless of social class or education. As economic pressures are brought to bear on Afghan American families, that dynamic has shifted in some cases at times causing stress. The primary influence on Afghan families is economic ones. Almost all immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s suffered a severe loss of status in their shift to the United States and have had to grow accustomed to their new situation.
Afghan literature is eclectic in the twentieth century, with influences of Iran, India, Central Asia, Europe and the U.S. The nation’s literatures which influenced the contemporary literature of Afghanistan are mainly due to the neighboring countries and also some were its colonizers. Women poetry in Afghan literature is about displacement, healing, and rebuilding. As a result the poetry is fragmented. Dari words float within the English lines. A ground breaking Afghan literary anthology of Afghan women writers in English between 1978 and 2002 are Drop by Drop, We Make a River, this anthology has the poems of women writers like Lida Abdullah, Zohra Saed, Fatana Jahangir Ahrary, Saaar Muradi, Zaheda Ghani, Shakila, Naseer, Ferziye Rahgozar Barlas, Doniagobar, Shekaiba Wakili, Donna Yasaman Sammander.
Among the numerous Afghan writers Khaled Hosseini enjoys a pride of place as a leading novelist of a global recognition. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat in the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and history at a high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then their homeland had witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet Army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States, and in September 1980 moved to San Jose, California. Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1988. The following year he entered the University of California, San Diego, and School of Medicine, where he earned a medical degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles and was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.
In March 2001, while practicing medicine, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, which was published by Riverhead Books in 2003. The debut novel went on to launch one of the biggest literary careers of our time. Today, Khaled Hosseini is one of the most recognized and best-selling authors in the world. His Books, The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed, have been published in over seventy countries and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
In 2003, Khaled Hosseini released his first novel, The Kite Runner, the story of a young boy, Amir, struggling to establish a closer rapport with his father and coping with memories of a haunting childhood event. The novel is set in Afghanistan, from the fall of the monarchy until the collapse of the Taliban regime, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in Fremont, California. Its many themes include ethnic tensions between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns in Afghanistan, and the immigrant experiences of Amir and his father in the United States. The novel was the number one best seller for 2005 in the United States, according to Nielsen Bookscan. The Kite Runner was also produced as an audiobook read by the author. The Kite Runner has been adapted into a film of the same name released in December 2007. Hosseini made a cameo appearance towards the end of the movie as a bystander when Amir buys a kite which he later flies with Sohrab.
Hosseini’s second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in 2007 and is also set in Afghanistan. The story addresses many of the same issues as Hosseini’s first, but takes a more feminine perspective. It follows the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become entwined. The story is set during Afghanistan’s tumultuous thirty-year transition from Soviet occupation to Taliban control and post-Taliban rebuilding. The novel was released by Riverhead Books on May 22, 2007.
Hosseini’s third novel And the Mountains Echoed was published in May 21, 2013. The story concerns a brother and a sister separated when the latter is given up for adoption because of their family’s straitened circumstances. And the Mountains Echoed is a deeply moving epic of heartache, hope and, above all, the unbreakable bonds of love. It speaks about the story of love, separation, friendship, compassion, exile, memory and the troubled history of Afghanistan, spanning three continents and sixty years. The novel chronicles the decades following the siblings divergence in 1950s Afghanistan.
The title And the Mountains Echoed is taken from the poem The Nurse’s Song written by William Blake in which he ends a verse with the line , “And all the hills echoed”.
Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,And then go home to bed.
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,And all the hills echoed. (13-16)
Hosseini has changed “hills” to “mountains” partly because of the obvious nature of Afghanistan’s topography, but also because of the pervasive presence of mountains in the book. In fact, the mountains in this book bear sole witness to a couple of key, pivotal events. Just as a mountain would echo back a shout, the fateful acts committed before the mountains too emit an echo. They have a rippling effect, expanding outward and touching lives further and further away. Hosseini likes the idea of a decision or an act echoing through both place and time, altering the fates of characters both living and not yet born.
And the mountains Echoed offers a haunting portrayal of war-ravaged Afghanistan and insight into the life of Afghan expatriates. It is a jigsaw puzzle made up of dozens of pieces from tales told by eight narrators, all of whom are at least tangentially connected to the family of Saboor, an impoverished labourer from the apparently fictitious Afghan village of Shadbagh. It also underpins the biased treatment of women in Afghan literature. In this novel the readers get to know the characters of Nila, Parwana and Masooma. All three women are Afghans by way of origin but they enjoy different levels of freedom. This novel is not only an entertainment gadget through its suspenseful saga but also an insight into the predicament of Afghan women. It tugs at a few too many heartstrings and relies on one enormous contrivance.
Nostalgia and nostalgic literature are frequently critiqued as affected, sentimental, and a way to falsify the past through strategies of forgetting rather than recollecting. In literature, nostalgia is employed to discuss a general interest in the past or the personalities of the past and subsequent feelings of pleasure or pain. Nostalgia helps one to feel a connection to the past and to the fellow human beings, it imbues one’s life with more meaning.
In William Wordsworth’s poem The Daffodils, the concluding stanza brings out nostalgia. The poet, having seen beautiful daffodils somewhere, often sits alone on his couch and recalling for the same scene, which brings him pleasure. This is an apt example for pleasure in nostalgia, because the poet experienced tranquility and peace of mind in the company of the flowers, and he still feels the same afterward, when he is alone at home. The nostalgic mood of the poet is revealed in the following lines:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my hearts with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils. (19-24)
For centuries Nostalgia was considered as potentially debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition expressing extreme homesickness. The modern view is that nostalgia is an independent and even positive, emotion that many people experience often. Occasional nostalgia has been found to have many functions, such as to improve mood, increase social connectedness, enhance positive self-regard, and provide existential meaning. Many nostalgic reflections serve more than one function and overall seem to benefit who experience them. Such benefits may lead to a chronic disposition or personality trait of nostalgia proneness.
Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights gives appropriate scope to the working of the memory. It may be assumed that excessive nostalgia is one of the principal reasons why Catherine and Heathcliff each eventually forced to mental illness. The harmfulness of nostalgia can even be sensed in Edgar Linton’s baneful consequences, so, too, in some measure may forgetfulness may also be a good thing where, as in Hareton Earnshaw’s case, it means declining to bear against others the kinds of grudge that, says Heathcliff harbors for years on end. The retentive memory may, nevertheless, be the sign of a wholesome humanity is amply illustrated by the younger Catherine, notably through her relatives with some of the main characters.