The form is named after the gazelle (ghizaal), an animal which had to be killed to obtain the sweet musk sought after in the Arabian world. It was said that the dying cry of a gazelle was comparable to the pain of separation or love lost.
The so-called Democratic Republic of Afghanistan continued to be supported by the Soviet Union after its withdrawal in 1989, with military and financial assistance. Consequently, the government army controlled by Mohammed Najibullah was able to resist Mujahideen attacks successfully until 1992 when Kabul was finally captured.
The impact of this civil war is well captured in Hosseini's second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Peshawar is the capital of Pakistan's northwest frontier province. The name means "City on the Frontier", reflecting its position at the entrance to the Khyber Pass. For centuries, it was an important hub for the Silk Road, and remains the cultural capital for Pashtuns.
The Taliban held power in Afghanistan from 1995 to 2001. Pashtun in origin, they were headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. His government redesignated the country the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan". Notoriously, they held public executions, banned kite flying and television, and forced all women to wear the burqa in public.