Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Title: The Kite RunnerBook Review - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Drama

First Publication: 2003

Language: English

Major Characters: Amir, Hassan, Assef, Bába, Sohrab, Soraya, Rahim Khan

Setting Place: Kabul (Afghanistan), Fremont, California (United States), Peshawar (Pakistan)

Theme: Memory and Past, Politics and Society, Betrayal, Redemption, Violence

Narrator: First person limited, from Amir’s point of view

 

Book Summary: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

 

Book Summary: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini starts off really great, it does not deteriorate into crap but I want to stress that it starts off really great.

I have never been to Afghanistan before (I imagine very few of us have) but this book paints such a vivid mental image of life in Kabul during the early 70s (before the Soviet deployment of their Army there) that I feel as if I have some kind of first-hand experience. I am not saying it is an accurate picture of the real Kabul at the time, just that the image and the imaginary atmosphere seems very real. Wild horses couldn’t drag me there now, but I imagine back then it was a nice place and time to grow up in (depending on your station in life there I guess).

“For you, a thousand times over”

Amir is the son of a wealthy, influential Afghan father, and he grows up alongside the son of their servant with whom he becomes best friends. The servants who serve their employers for many years tend to live in or near their employer’s home and tend to have kids of their own who grow up along with the boss’s children. The servants’ children often becoming their playmates if not exactly friends; a close friendship would require a more equal status in life. Amir lives in a mansion while Hassan and his crippled father live in a mud hut on the grounds. Hassan is Amir’s servant—has the fire going, has his breakfast ready before school with his school clothes laid out and his shoes polished. Amir is a bookish boy while Hassan is an unschooled Hazara.

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”

The Hazara are the underclass, and their status is akin to many other societies where wealthy families and servants or slaves share household activities. We follow Amir, Hassan and their families from their traditional childhood in Kabul in the 1970s through to the “liberation” of Afghanistan by the Taliban and then the barbaric behaviour of the Taliban as they take over and set about ethnic cleansing—wiping out the Hazara (leaving them for the dogs to eat!) and terrifying and killing for the fun of it.

As times change in Kabul, the boys change, life changes, and we are taken to the Afghan community in San Francisco, where they keep their customs and traditions in spite of American ignorance about where they’ve come from.

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

Khaled Hosseini writes from a heart that remembers its homeland, and remembers it well. While most of us think of Afghanistan as war-torn and weary, obsessive and restrictive, frightening even; Hosseini remembers what it was before all of that came to be. He gives the Afghani people a face, which can be a very powerful thing indeed.

He does not give us a narrator who is likeable, admirable, or sometimes even excusable, but he does give us a narrator who is human, vulnerable, and who suffers for his shortcomings. For some trespasses there is no atonement, only forgiveness.

“it always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place.”

No need for me to recount anything more about this book. Everyone has read it before me and the reviews are myriad. What I will say is that it is an important, heartfelt work of art and I believe it will be causing readers to replenish boxes of tissues far into the future.


Buy Now: Books by Khaled Hosseini

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