Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini) - Author Bio

Author Bio 
Birth—March 04, 1965
Where—Kabul, Afghanistan
Education—B.S., Santa Clara University; M.D., University
  of California, San Diego School of Medicine
Currently—lives in northern California

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1970, the Foreign Ministry sent his family to Tehran, where his father worked for the Afghan embassy. They lived in Tehran until 1973, at which point they returned to Kabul.

In July of 1973, on the night Hosseini’s youngest brother was born, the Afghan king, Zahir Shah, was overthrown in a bloodless coup by the king’s cousin, Daoud Khan. At the time, Hosseini was in fourth grade and was already drawn to poetry and prose; he read a great deal of Persian poetry as well as Farsi translations of novels ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series.

In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry once again relocated the Hosseini family, this time to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then Afghanistan had already witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, Hosseini’s family moved to San Jose, California. They lived on welfare and food stamps for a short while, as they had lost all of their property in Afghanistan. His father took multiple jobs and managed to get his family off welfare.

Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California-San Diego’s School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and began practicing Internal Medicine in 1996. His first love, however, has always been writing.

In 2003, Hosseini published The Kite Runner, which became a runaway bestseller and film in 2007. He followed up with his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns in 2007, also a bestseller. His third novel, And the Mountians Echoed, was published in 2013.

Hosseini has vivid, and fond, memories of peaceful pre-Soviet era Afghanistan, as well as of his personal experiences with Afghan Hazaras. One Hazara in particular was a thirty-year-old man named Hossein Khan, who worked for the Hosseinis when they were living in Iran. When Hosseini was in the third grade, he taught Khan to read and write. Though his relationship with Hossein Khan was brief and rather formal, Hosseini always remembered the fondness that developed between them.

In 2006, Hosseini was named a goodwill envoy to the UNHCR, The United Nations Refugee Agency. (Adapted from the publisher.)

From a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:

• During his years in the U.S., Hosseini has soaked in more than his share of American culture. He professes to be a fan of such U.S. institutions as the music of Bruce Springsteen and football. Still, he admits that he simply cannot appreciate baseball, saying, "I think that to fully appreciate baseball, it helps to have been born in the U.S."

• When it comes to chickens, Hosseini is a chicken. "I'm terrified of chickens," the writer confesses. "Absolutely petrified. This intense and irrational fear is, I believe, caused by the memory of a black hen we owned in Kabul when I was a child. She used to peck her own chicks to death as soon as the eggs hatched."

• When Hosseini isn't writing or tending to one of his patients, he enjoys games of no-limits Texas hold 'em poker with his brother and friends.

• When asked what book most influenced him, here is what he had to say:

I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school in 1983. My family had immigrated to the U.S. three years before, and I had spent the better part of the first two years learning English. John Steinbeck's book was the first book I read in English where I had an "Aha!" moment, namely in the famed turtle chapter. For some reason, I identified with the disenfranchised farm workers in that novel—I suppose in one sense, they reminded me of my own country's traumatized people. And indeed, when I went back to Afghanistan in 2003, I met people with tremendous pride and dignity under some very bleak conditions; I suspect I met a few Ma Joads and Tom Joads in Kabul.

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