Thursday, 23 August 2012

Book review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Bloomsbury UK, 336 pages.

Description: 1970s Afghanistan:

Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him.

But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives...

Since its publication in 2003, The Kite Runner has sold eight million copies worldwide.

Through Khaled Hosseini's brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to life.

Rating:



The Kite Runner is a poignant novel that has enlightened me on the last four decades of Afghan history (beyond "The Taliban is bad") and the people originating from the country. I feel like an ignored Westerner for only knowing about this country what the media has spoon-fed me, but thankfully author Khaled Hosseini has opened my eyes by showing the human side of the ongoing wars in that part of the world and the terrible suffering of the people as a result of such.

The book is told through the perspective of Amir, a privileged Afghan boy living in a large house with his father, the servant and the servant's son Hassan. Amir and Hassan, only a year apart in age, grow up together and form a close bond, though Amir doesn't think of it as a friendship. I do not want to post any spoilers here but through events that happen to the boys when they're still young, and a war brewing, the two grow apart.

In fact, Amir flees to America with his father and it is at this stage that yet again I'm reminded of how little I know of the people who came from Afghanistan. Amir and his father were very well off in their own country, but in the US his father works at a gas station to pay the rent and in the weekends the two try to earn some extra cash by selling bits and bobs on flee markets.

The story of Amir growing up is largely overshadowed by the cowardice he feels in a lot of situations he's put in and the guilt that follows soon after. There are many times I wanted to slap some sense into the character and wished he had made different choices. Some of the things he witnesses or tells the reader about are beyond inhuman, no-one should ever have to suffer through them.

While heart-wrenching, and a difficult read at times, I was unable to put the novel down and even continued reading while walking on the street. I needed to know what was going to happen next.

I urge everyone to pick up The Kite Runner as it is an incredibly rewarding read. Don't expect the novel to have a 'happily ever after' fairytale ending, on contrary. But instead be prepared to feel incredibly angry at and intense sadness for the people within its pages. And most of all, learn from the unfamiliar words, customs and names mentioned, and see Afghanistan in a a whole new light.

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