Caledoniyya

The Kite Runner

A confirmed book-glutton, I have only two quirks: I cannot bear reaching the final pages, and I avoid high-profile reads like the bubonic plague.

If a book has been featured on Oprah or Richard & Judy, it has received the kiss of death and I gently place it back on the shelf of the store.

This is indubitably incredible snobbery, but there is something so tantalising about a book uncovered lurking in the crevices of a decaying store, and if Amazon doesn’t stock it, it is a real treasure.

Somehow, whether it was a moment of curiosity, or sheer desperation for escapism, I picked up Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed 2003 tome, The Kite Runner in a local second-hand store.

At the time of the release of the book, and subsequently the movie, a tremendous hype pervaded the media.

With a cocked eyebrow, I entered the book skeptical – I had been stung by the hype-bee through Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, a book so devilish that I actually turned against it.

Having read Hosseini’s work in little over a week, I am eternally grateful to whatever forces prompted me to visit that shop, and grab that book over Orwell’s 1984.

To say it is a masterpiece of story-telling would be mediocre praise.

It is beautiful, tragic, captivating, and most astonishing of all, delightful to finish.

As I approached the final paragraphs, I didn’t put the book aside, sullenly regretting reaching the end so quickly.

Rather, I turned each page with increasing speed; the voice of the main protagonist, Amir, drawing me towards a subtle and sublime conclusion.

After finishing The Kite Runner last night, I mused on which sections I could use as an example of Hosseini’s skillful writing.

I could find none.

I could find none, because the novel is so perfect in its entirety, that it would be churlish and unjust to pluck just one section at random.

It would be akin to taking a brick from the Taj Mahal to present it as an isolated example of the great building itself.

Instead, I shall provide a brief plot outline, and urge you to read the book.

The novel opens in Kabul in the late 1960s, where Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara and the son of Amir’s father’s servant, Ali, pass their days in a peaceful Kabul, kite fighting and roaming the streets making mischief.

Amir’s father, generally referred to as Baba, loves both the boys, but remains critical of Amir for not being manly enough, as Hassan defends him in every instance.

For his own part, Amir fears his father blames him for his mother’s death during childbirth, and finds a kind father figure in the form of Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, who is supportive of the young boy’s interest in writing stories.

One day, however, an event occurs that changes the lives of all concerned – Amir and Hassan in particular.

Fast forward, and Amir and Baba flee to America and build a new life in Fremont, California.

Try as he might, Amir cannot outrun his guilt, despite finding success as an author and marrying his “Swap Meet Princess”, Soraya Taheri.

The novel is, then, about redemption, revenge, love, loss, and all the aspects of flawed human lives that render a story so compelling.

Yet Hosseini’s manner of conveying the tale is so matter-of-fact, yet profound, that one becomes almost a confident; the end of the book brings relief, as all is put to right, or as right as it can be.

The beauty of the novel lies in its ability to deliver a heavy subject simply; only on reflection does one realise what a feat that is.

A few months ago I bought Hosseini’s latest tome, A Thousand Splendid Suns; to date, it has been trapped in my mountain of boxes.

After reading The Kite Runner, however, I am struck by the crazed desire to dig it out.

In the meantime, I urge all to beg, borrow, or buy The Kite Runner, for it is a true literary indulgence.

The Kite Runner is published by Bloomsbury Publishing, 352 pages, 2007. ISBN: 0747594880.

3 comments on “The Kite Runner

  1. hamede
    November 2, 2008

    It is a good book.

  2. Hani Obaid
    November 3, 2008

    Why not both the kite runner and 1984 ?

    The first time I read 1984, it seemed so familiar because the concepts it introduced half a century ago are all around us today, or maybe it was because the children’s version (Animal Farm) also by Orwell was required reading in my school.

    I think you’d like it. Oddly enough they made the movie in 1984 as well!

  3. laylatoot
    November 4, 2008

    Hamede: it is indeed excellent!

    Hani: I have a major dilemma when it comes to books these days – my shelves are ridiculously crowded; it’s like living in a book store. However, since I bought Life in the Tomb by Stratis Myrivilis yesterday, it is perhaps inevitable that 1984 will find its way here by next week! 😀

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2008 by in Caledoniyya Book Club, Frivolities & Miscellaeny, Reviews and tagged , , .
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