A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Mariam, an ethnic Tajik, born in 1959, is a 15-year-old girl when the book begins. The story centers around her and the events of her life as they intertwine with Laila's.

Nana is Mariam's mother, who used to be a servant in Jalil's house and had an affair with him. He built her a kolba (small hut) to live in and raise Mariam.

Mullah Faizullah is Mariam's elderly Koran teacher and friend.

Jalil is Mariam's father, a wealthy man who had three wives before he had an affair with Nana. Marries Mariam to Rasheed, but later regrets sending her away.

Laila, an ethnic Tajik, born in 1978, is a young, beautiful, educated girl coming from a lower class family when first introduced. Her life becomes tied to Mariam's when she is forced into marrying Rasheed, Mariam's husband.

Rasheed an ethnic Pashtun, is the villain of the story. Rasheed, a shoemaker, marries Mariam through an arrangement with her father and later marries Laila by deceiving her.

Tariq is a boy who grew up in Kabul with Laila. They were best friends and eventually lovers.

Aziza is the daughter of Laila and Tariq, conceived when Laila was 14 and causing her to marry Rasheed in very early pregnancy after Tariq and his family decide to leave Kabul.

Zalmai is Laila and Rasheed's son.