“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini Sep13

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“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini

This novel is told in retrospect: we meet an author named Amir who gets an unexpected phonecall from an old friend. This sets the scene for the rest of the story. We learn that, on a particular day far away in the past, an event occured that has shaped Amir’s life ever since. Anyone who’s read it will understand the devastating effect of this incident: it happens on the day of the kite running competition. Amir finally has an opportunity to win his father’s approval. He and his father Baba have an intriguing relationship because Baba, though a powerful man, doesn’t appear to show much affection for his son. The effects of this on Amir are profound. What’s supposed to be a great day marks the beginning of a long, arduous journey toward redemption. He is asked to face his demons but learns that “There is a way to be good again.”

The book looks at Afghan culture, the problems with it, family issues, cultural differences between Afghanistan and the U.S., the fraternity shared by Afghans, as well as the discord they suffer, and a whole load of other really interesting facets to life. What Hosseini does best is enter the mind of his central character, Amir, and help the reader to understand his motives and the challenges he faces. He portrays both the good and bad sides to many characters. In this sense, he neither romantises nor demonises any of them.

It offers an Afghan’s perspective on politics and the history of Taliban rule while setting the context very well by showing the before and after. One scene in particular of a stoning is quite disturbing¬† and, like other scenes, can be quite gut-wrenching.

Relationships play a crucial role in the story. The relationships between Baba, Amir and Hassan are intricate, fragile, toxic, loving, bewildering, bitter and probably any other adjective you care to throw in to the mix. In this way, the book reminds us of what we already knew – that relationships, especially our closest ones, are not always easy or straight-forward.

Hosseini’s novel is a treasure. His characters are closely observed and sympathetic, not to say perfect or anything close to it. His words are put together into some of the most fluid and pleasing sentences you’ll find in fiction. It’s a highly recommended read. Go get it.