The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amy Wills ’15
EE Contributor

Afghanistan. A country torn apart by war due to political and religious conflicts. Unfortunately, that description fails to express the true nature of the nation, a culture that is reflected in its citizens, and the stories of those individuals. One such story is told through Khaled Hosseini, who recounts his experiences there through the semi-fictitious story of a boy named Amir who grows up in Afghanistan, transitions to America, and then to Pakistan to redeem himself for the betrayal of his best friend, Hassan.

Two boys, though inseparable as children, become destined for conflict because their opposing social classes and religions. Amir, the son of a wealthy Sunni, becomes increasingly jealous of the son of his father’s servant, Hassan, a poor Shi’a. Angry at his father’s admiration for many of Hassan’s characteristics, Amir refuses to defend Hassan when a group of rich, Sunni, Pashtuns boys abuse him. Afraid for his own life and reputation, Amir ignores his best friend’s cries for help, and thus commences his feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.

In an attempt to rid himself of this constant reminder of his failure as a friend, Amir creates a scheme to shame Hassan and his father so they are forced to leave the home. This only proves to intensify his guilt, however, and eventually Amir and his father are forced to flee their home country and settle in Fremont, California to escape the violence surrounding the political debates there.

More than 20 years later, Amir is faced with his childhood deeds once again as Rahim Kahn, a close friend of Amir and his father, contacts him to encourage him to come to Pakistan, where Kahn has taken refuge. He desires that Amir makes his peace with Hassan, so that he may redeem both himself and their friendship. Amir realizes he has to answer this call, and goes back to make amends. Just as Hosseini writes, “It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out” (1), Amir realizes he can no longer hide from the decisions he made as a child and that though, “It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime” (142).

Without revealing too much of the story, this summary proves the humanistic quality Hosseini was certain to portray through his novel. As Bob Corbett, writer for Webster University, beautifully summed, “It is so powerful because it points up the basic humanness of us all. Before this novel I had never given Afghanistan much thought, following only the broadest patterns of its political history in the past 20 years. But Hosseini forces us to see the Afghans to be like everyone else – humans, complex, both defined and crippled by tradition, but no more or less so than anyone else. The novel profoundly enriches me in further insight to the unity of the human species, and the struggles, even agony, of going forward in life.”

In all, The Kite Runner is a masterpiece, interconnecting the tragedy of the Afghan war, the beauty and struggle of its culture, and the individuality of its citizens. As a book, “The story is fast-paced and hardly ever dull, and introduced me to a world – the world of Afghan life – which is strange, fascinating and yet oddly familiar all at the same time. Hosseini’s writing finds a great balance between being clear and yet powerful, and not only is the story itself brilliantly constructed, but the book also explores the very art of storytelling” as reviewer for the Guardian, Charlie B., comments. A complex but relatively easy read, I would recommend this 371 page novel to those interested in the Middle-Eastern culture, or really anyone looking for a gripping book that gives a unique perspective on an often overlooked country as well as its inhabitants. With that, some of the content is a bit heavy, and would therefore advise only those over fifteen years of age take it on.

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed, was practicing medicine during the early stages of his first novel, The Kite Runner. Though he never went to school specifically for writing, his first book, published by Riverhead Books in 2003, went on to become an international bestseller and beloved classic, sold in at least seventy countries and spent more than a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Hosseini proved himself to be an incredible story-teller and I believe his book, The Kite Runner, is an important read for young and older adults.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hit Counter provided by Los Angeles SEO