Monday, August 18

"The Kite Runner" - Khaled Hosseini

BLURB: product description: "In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.
The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")
Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg "

I have always been someone who wants both sides to a story. When two of my friends fought, I didn't just listen to one and bitch with them about the other - I sought out both of their opinions before making any judgement. When I began getting involved in debates about science and religion, I was mainly reading creationist literature, so I took biology as one of my subject in my senior years of high school to get the 'hard science' I was missing. And these days, most of the time when the media talks about Afghanistan and the Middle East, it's in a decidedly negative tone. After all, who was it who flew those planes into the Twin Towers on September 11?
It's for this reason that The Kite Runner becomes a much-needed antidote to the biased attitudes of many (reinforced by the media, of course). At a time when many Afghanis are probably crying out for their side of the story to be heard, this book has launched itself onto the bestseller list, and at least one of their stories can be told to everyone who reads it (and judging by the statistics on BookMooch, that's a lot of people - it is currently in second place on the 'Most Frequently Mooched' list.)
The tale of Amir, the protagonist, is beautifully told - after reading action-packed thrillers for a while, the different style of prose was at first startling, however I soon got used to it. Hosseini paints characters so incredibly real, so real that even the most hard-hearted of readers couldn't help but feel for them. The bleakness of their situations only heightens the sense of heartache one feels while reading - this is not a novel to read when you need cheering up, it's one to read when you need waking up to what goes on in the world we live in.
Nowhere is the utter depravity of human nature more starkly highlighted than in The Kite Runner. You may not enjoy it, but it will certainly make you think.

Not what I'd usually read at all, but I'm glad I did. 4 STARS


Anonymous said...

To answer your comment on my blog, Emma...
Why can't he exist?
I can't really answer that except to say that (having re-read my old self), I think I must have been struggling to personify a force I do not understand. Maybe like calling something 'gravity' instead of 'magic' perhaps.

If there is a God, I find the concept interesting but it seems regardless of what I believe, if such an entity exists I will no doubt find out for myself upon death anyway, be I judged as good or bad. So why worry about it?

Sorry I took so long to get to this by the way. If you have read any of my recent posts you may know why.

I think I should repay the compliment in turn, because I like your honest reviews (refreshing to commercialised ones) and I like even more that you clearly have a passion for reading and I like the customisations you have done on your blog too, very nice.

Keep on reading.


Afi said...

i loved this book. great review...cant beleive i didnt know ab this blog of urs?