"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini



What an amazing debut novel this was! I read it for the first time, just a few days ago and am still so moved by the story.

The Kite Runner is the story of two young boys growing up in Afghanistan. One boy, Amir is the privileged son of a well-respected man, the other; Hassan is a servant boy of the Hazara race, which has long ago been conquered and repressed by the current Afghani regime. Amir and Hassan the “Sultans of Kabul” as they call themselves are fast friends living a perfect life in the stable Kabul of the 1970’s. The reader is given a glimpse of Afghanistan that is without war, beautiful and idyllic.

As the boys start to grow up, slowly, insidiously Amir is poisoned by jealousy, the mocking tones of other boys and his own feelings of inadequacy with his father. He starts to see Hassan as a threat to losing his father’s love. He sees himself as a disappointment to the athletic and powerful father, while Hassan’s own father loves Hassan without reserve. Amir’s own father seems to dote on the boy.

Khaled Hosseini understands a young boy’s tormented heart very well; he makes the reader feel the despair, the anguish, the growing pains, and the guilt. As Afghanistan nears was, the climate of the town becomes more and more tense. Then something unspeakable happens to Hassan and Amir is witness, which further poisons his mind against the loyal and loving Hassan and causes him to act out against him.

Years later, Amir and his father have fled to America and Amir is still tortured by his feelings of guilt, remorse and he is haunted by his own actions. Eventually, he is drawn back to his war torn land under Taliban rule on a personal quest for redemption.

Mr. Hosseni has given the reader an education in such a heartfelt way. The Afghanistan he writes of is filled with beauty and tragedy. There is an instance while they are still living in Kabul when Amir’s father is speaking to him in his study where he decry’s what will happen to the country if the Taliban ever run it. It is horribly prophetic and the statement haunts both Amir and the reader.

The book is so beautifully written that it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. It hurt to read it and it hurt to finish it. How I wished it would never end! It was simply astounding.

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