This is the remarkable debut novel from Khaled Hosseini. Twelve year old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father Baba, one of the richest ...Show synopsisThis is the remarkable debut novel from Khaled Hosseini. Twelve year old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father Baba, one of the richest and most respected merchants in Kabul. He has failed to do so through academia or brawn, but the one area where they connect is the annual kite fighting tournament. Amir is determined not just to win the competition but to run the last kite and bring it home triumphantly, to prove to his father that he has the makings of a man. His loyal friend Hassan is the best kite runner that Amir has ever seen, and he promises to help him - for Hassan always helps Amir out of trouble. But, Hassan is a Shi'a Muslim and this is 1970s Afghanistan.Hassan is taunted and jeered at by Amir's school friends; he is merely a servant living in a shack at the back of Amir's house. So why does Amir feel such envy towards his friend? Then, what happens to Hassan on the afternoon of the tournament is to shatter all their lives, and define their futures. When Russia invades Afghanistan, Amir and Baba escape to San Francisco, where Baba fades but Amir feels that at last he can succeed. But, he is still haunted by guilt and he knows that his past will not let him go.The destructive rule of the Northern Alliance, followed by the even more terrifying and oppressive Taliban have destroyed the country that Amir knows, but the hearts of men cannot be suppressed. Amir must return to Afghanistan to search for salvation, and perhaps his life-altering mistakes can be redeemed. This is a moving, courageous story of love, loyalty, secrets and vengeance, and of a country and a boy whose footsteps cannot be retraced, as the events and decisions resonate and alter them for ever.Hide synopsis
The Kite Runner (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC) – Paperback (2004)
Paperback, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 2004
New edition. New edition.
ISBN: 0747566534 ISBN-13: 9780747566533
Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father and resolves to win the local kite-fighting tournament, to prove that he has the makings of a man. His loyal friend Hassan promises to help him - for he always helps Amir - but this is 1970s Afghanistan and Hassan is merely a low-caste servant who is jeered at in the street, although Amir still feels jealous of his natural courage and the place he holds in his father's heart. But neither of the boys could foresee what would happen to Hassan on the afternoon ...Show moreTwelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father and resolves to win the local kite-fighting tournament, to prove that he has the makings of a man. His loyal friend Hassan promises to help him - for he always helps Amir - but this is 1970s Afghanistan and Hassan is merely a low-caste servant who is jeered at in the street, although Amir still feels jealous of his natural courage and the place he holds in his father's heart. But neither of the boys could foresee what would happen to Hassan on the afternoon of the tournament, which was to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return, to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.Hide
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This is one of the better contemporary novels I've read. The book offer so much insight into Afghani culture from the 1970s on the eve of the Soviet invasion, and it brings the reader into the minds and hearts of the Afghani immigrant/refugee community of the Bay Area.
The twists and turns in the story line progressively shocked me, and caused my mouth to drop (literally).
Khaled Hosseini has woven a tale that takes its time being told. Kite Runner is the story of a boy becoming a man in Afghan culture. Amir and Hassan, living in Afghanistan as the novel begins, are raised in the same household, almost as cousins. They are not adversely affected by having no women in the household. The boys grow up together with two fathers and no siblings, with one pair taking responsibility for the domestic chores. Ali and Hassan live their lives in service to Baba and Amir. Indeed, during an attack, both boys huddle with Ali until Baba arrives. I am told that Ali holds Hassan tenderly.1 I suspect that if the boys were raised in America with one working parent, much would have been the same for Amir.
The story begins to take on meaning at Amir's thirteenth birthday party, when he throws away a book by Hitler and lovingly receives a blank notebook. Hosseini uses this incident to foreshadow the outcome of Amir's life. Yet, none of the characters in this novel seem to mind that Amir continues to live with his dad even after he comes of age. Nearly everyone in America that I know would have a problem with this. A dependent that turns eighteen should move away from his parents to start his own life. Indeed, the conflict between parents and teens in real life naturally achieves this result most of the time. Attending college can also help young adults to achieve this separation. Thankfully, the author redeems himself and his main character by other means. For Amir, the desired result is achieved with his dad's illness and impending death. Amir's marriage gives him a family in the United States. He is not alone in a foreign land when his dad dies.
Amir calls America "a river, roaring along unmindful of the past," a place where a person can be carried off to the ocean, leaving his sins behind him.2 I am not sure if this is meant to mean the country in general, or Amir while living in America. I also find America to be a place where people can move to escape their troubles. I wonder if the huge influx of immigrants begot such culture having had the experience of moving away in the past. We are not centered on family or clan here, instead we work with one group of people for eight hours of the day, commuting an hour or two, and sup briefly with our family and friends before turning in for the night.
While living in America, Amir receives a telephone call that troubles him. Rahim Khan, his Dad's former business partner, is sick. He is the man that gave him the blank notebook, the only gift that was well received. The call brought with it suppressed memories of his childhood. During a walk to the park, he seems to be summoning strength to confront something. Will he not stand up for himself once again? He must go to visit his sick friend before he dies. Rahim Khan knows Amir well. Amir respectfully follows the advice given to him by Rahim Khan during the visit. Because he has not backed down this time, Amir has learned that acting justly toward another sometimes requires putting your own safety at risk. Athough Rahim Kahn's and Amir's hearts are healed when they act on Sohrab's behalf, Sohrab needs to achive much healing, still.
I am not convinced that Sohrab will recover, and consequently, I am worried that Amir will not be gratified. He will not feel salvation because it is pinned to the result he achieves with the boy. Although Amir's mind accepts that their day at Lake Elizabeth's Park has broken through Sohrab's desolation, he has signed on for far more than he would have had to do if he had been kind to Hassan during their childhood together. On one partially successful day of kite flying, "Sohrab...breathing rapidly through his nose [next to him] the spool roll[ing] in his palms3," Amir thinks "it was only a smile, nothing more. It didn't make everything all right. It didn't make anything all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing."4 He has an entire life time of days filled with acting to procure the boy's happiness. By now he must realize that his own childhood happiness required effort on the part of others. Amir has achieved no resolution. I find no other solution for Amir's ongoing struggle than for Hosseini to write a sequel.
1.Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner (New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005) 35.
2.Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner (New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005) 136.
3.Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner (New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005) 369.
4.Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner (New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005) 371.
This is a very sad and touching book about a little boy growing up in Afghanistan. It really made me stop and think about racism, how kids struggle with right and wrong, and there's some good history education in it too. Very good book.
As we continue to support the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, I a glad I read this book to get a deeper sense of the experience of the people. Although it is fiction is has a lot of historical information and is a good depictions of life in the shadows of the Taliban. I want to recommend ...
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