I’m in San Jose at the 2nd annual Book Group Expo, which runs though the weekend. The headliner tonight was Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, in conversation with Susanne Pari, BGE Program Director and author of ‘The Fortune Catcher.’ Hosseini read a short passage from his new novel, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ a scene set in a women’s hospital in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s reign. I won’t give anything away except to say that he knows how to tell a cliffhanger with language that is incantatory. Afterwards, he talked about the struggle to write this second book after the colossal success of ‘The Kite Runner’. He described the onslaught of fan letters: “At some point, the letters, as wonderful as they were, became a challenge . . . I underestimated how difficult it is to write a second novel. . . . Most people want greatness out of you.” In advance of writing it, he began to feel sorry for this this second novel. The word around the rooms, though, is that this one is even better than ‘The Kite Runner.’
Tomorrow, there’s a full slate of authors, including Po Bronson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Nathan Englander, and Steve Wozniak . . . And that’s just before noon. Stay tuned.
-Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad