ATSS Timeline

  • Start of A Thousand Splendid Suns (ATSS)

    Start of A Thousand Splendid Suns (ATSS)
    Mariam (age 13), one of the protagonists of the novel, is introduced.
  • Internal Conflict Ensues

    Internal Conflict Ensues
    Afghanistan Afghanistan's internal situation gets worse because of drought and famine, and internal conflict ensues. Radio Kabul announces the discovery of an allegedly Pakistan-backed plot to overthrow the new regime of King Zahir Shah.
  • Start of the Afghan Civil War in ATSS

    Mariam has had seven miscarriages already with Rasheed, who is frustrated with her about it, along with the Civil War. Military planes start to fly over Kabul.
  • Saur Revolution Overthrows Government

    War in Afghanistan President Mohammed Daoud Khan (who himself took power in a bloodless coup in 1973) is killed after insurgent military forces storm Afghanistan's presidential palace. The troops are aligned with the Khalq faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).
  • PDPA Factional Fights Reach Tipping Point

    Afghanistan After years of rumbling, the push-and-pull of infighting between the PDPA's Khalq and Parcham factions reaches a tipping point. The leader of the Parcham faction is exiled from Afghanistan.
  • U.S. Ambassador Killed in Kabul

    Afghanistan War American Ambassador Adolph Dubs is abducted by anti-government militants in Kabul, and is killed by gunfire during a raid attempt by Afghan police. Relations between the United States and Afghanistan sour, and American foreign aid to the country is cancelled.
  • U.S. Begins to Aid Mujahideen

    Afghanistan War After consulting with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter approves financial support for guerillas who oppose Afghanistan's communist government.
  • Laila is Introduced in ATSS

    A 9 year old Laila is first introduced in the story as a main character, changing from Mariam in Part 1.
  • Afghanistan Adopts New Constitution

    Afghanistan Soviets begin pulling power away from Karmal by installing Mohammad Najibullah as the communist party chief. He becomes Head of State in September 1987. In November 1987, a new constitution is adopted.
  • Laila and Tariq Go See a Movie

    Laila is 11 now, and her family watches the last Soviets leave Afghanistan. She and Tariq go see a Russian movie, and we start to really see their interest in each other for the first time.
  • Final Soviet Troops Leave Afghanistan

    Afghanistan War The USSR's nine-year occupation ends.
  • USSR Collapses

    Afghanistan War Najibullah's government depends on Russian aid to survive. Soviet Union dissolves, and Afghanistan's natural gas exports collapse at the same time Russian fuel shipments end. Afghanistan's economy is in tailspin.
  • Laila and Tariq's Relationship Grows

    Tariq's father has fallen ill, and Laila's mother is out of her depressed slumber. Laila and Tariq meet in private, and we can see their relationship grow even more. Tariq tells her that she's the only girl he cares about.
  • Laila's Parents Die

    Laila's parents die in an explosion caused by a missile that hit their house. Laila survives and is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam. She becomes another wife of Rasheed, and tension quickly arises between her and Mariam.
  • Hekmatyar Cuts Off Water and Electricity From Kabul

    Afghanistan Seizing a power station 30 miles east of Kabul, Hekmatyar's militia is able to cut off electricity and water to Kabul. The still-young government is forced into secret negotiations with Hekmatyar.
  • Laila and Mariam Become Friends

    Laila and Mariam have overcome their tension, and have even bonded and become friends. Laila had had a child now, a girl named Aziza, who is also Tariq's daughter, not Rasheed's. Laila and Mariam plan to escape to Pakistan, but the plan doesn't work, and tension gets worse between them two against Rasheed.
  • The Taliban Emerges

    Afghanistan War In 1994, the Taliban first emerges, when Mullah Mohammed Omar leads a few dozen madrasa students in the raid of a base where a military commander has captured and raped two kidnapped girls; Omar's forces free the girls, execute the rapist, and capture weaponry from the base.
  • Laila Has Another Child

    Laila watches in shock as the Taliban take control of Kabul and change the moral code. Also, she's pregnant with another child, a boy named Zalmai, who is definitely Rasheed's this time.
  • Osama bin Laden Declares War on U.S.

    Afghanistan In August 1996, bin Laden issues his first fatwa, calling for a jihad to drive American influence from the Arabian peninsula. In September, he moves his wives, children, and close allies to Jalalabad, before settling in Tora Bora. Also, former president Najibullah is executed.
  • Life Becomes Harder for the Family

    Laila is Relieved to know that she loves Zalmai just as much as Aziza, but it's clear that Rasheed loves Zalmai more. Money becomes tight for the family, and life is more dangerous with the Taliban becoming stronger. Also, tension between Rasheed and his wives doesn't improve.
  • Civilians Murdered as Taliban Expands

    Afghanistan War As the Taliban attempts to expand its control over Afghan territory, they committ mass atrocities.
  • A Terrible Year for the Family

    Kabul is in the midst of a drought, Rasheed's shop burns down, he treats Mariam and Laila worse than ever, and Mariam finds out Jalil, her father, is dead.
    Also, the movie Titanic is released.
  • Al-Qaeda Bombs USS Cole in Yemen

    Afghanistan War In a suicide attack, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula detonates explosives against hull of the USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39. Bin Laden wins new terrorist recruits and funding
  • Laila Goes Through Some Big Things

    Financial issues become too bad for the family, and they have to send Aziza to an orphanage just to stay afloat. This hurts Laila and Aziza both, and she develops trauma and a stutter from it. Also, Laila finds out Tariq is still alive.
  • Laila and Tariq are Reunited

    Laila and Tariq catch up with each other, and she finds out he's been living well, a lot better than they are. Laila tells him that Aziza is his daughter, and he's excited and happy about it.
  • A Fork in the Road

    The tension between Rasheed and his wives reaches a boiling point, especially when he finds out about Tariq's visit. The three get into a fight, and Mariam ends up killing Rasheed. At this point, Laila, Tariq, and the kids escape to Pakistan, while Mariam stays to take the blame for the murder. She's imprisoned, and eventually publicly executed.
  • Laila and Tariq Start Thier New Life Together

    Laila, Tariq, Zalmai, and Aziza all live a comfortable life togehter in Murree. They all have some degree of trauma from everything that happended when they were in Afghanistan, but they're happy and together now. The parents hear of the 9/11 attacks and how the U.S. had declared war, and they think about the future of Afghanistan.
  • The 9/11 Attacks Kill Thousands of Americans

    The 9/11 Attacks Kill Thousands of Americans
    Afghanistan War Al-Qaeda launches the largest terrorist attacks in history, hijacking four U.S. commercial airplanes and crashing two into the World Trade Center's "Twin Towers" in New York City, one into The Pentagon in Arlington, and targeting Washington, DC with the fourth. The United States and its allies prepare for a military response to Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies.
  • The End of ATSS

    The End of ATSS
    Laila and the Family now live comfortably in Kabul again. They help rebuild the city after the Taliban is out of power, and Laila goes to visit Mariam's hometown. Conditions are improving, and Laila and Tariq work together in the orphanage that Aziza had gone to before. Lastly, we find out Laila is pregnant again, and she knows that if it's a girl, she will name her Mariam.
  • Afghanistan Adopts Another New Constitution

    Afghanistan After a 2003 constitutional convention, Afghanistan officially adopts the new constitution in January 2003, codifying into law division of powers, due process, and the right to peaceful assembly.
  • Osama bin Laden is Killed by U.S. Forces

    Afghanistan War After intense deliberations in the Obama administration, Navy SEAL Team 6 raids a Pakistan compound and kills Osama bin Laden. This symbollically marks the very end of the Afghan War for the U.S.