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 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 ...
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 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.
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May 23, 2013
I'm speechless...I simply enjoyed the book soooooooo much...from start to finish!!!!!
Mar 3, 2013
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).
Nov 27, 2011
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.
Aug 26, 2010
Sad but wonderful
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.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-12 Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s. Amir, the son of a well-to-do Kabul merchant, is the first-person narrator, who marries, moves to California and becomes a successful novelist. But he remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend, a Hazara boy named Hassan, who receives a brutal beating from some local bullies. After establishing himself in America, Amir learns that the Taliban have murdered Hassan and his wife, raising questions about the fate of his son, Sohrab. Spurred on by childhood guilt, Amir makes the difficult journey to Kabul, only to learn the boy has been enslaved by a former childhood bully who has become a prominent Taliban official. The price Amir must pay to recover the boy is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the true nature of his relationship to Hassan. Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium. (June 2) Forecast: It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality. Though Afghanistan is now on the media back burner, its fate is still of major interest and may become even more so as the U.S.'s nation-building efforts are scrutinized. 10-city author tour; foreign rights sold in Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2011-09-26 Seven years after the novel's publication and four years after the release of a motion picture, a faithful though streamlined graphic novel adaptation of Hosseini's bestseller appears. Amir was raised in privilege in Afghanistan, with Hassan, a member of the Hazara minority whose father is a servant in Amir's house, as his constant companion. Amir's jealousy over his father's affection for Hassan leads to a betrayal that breaks up the friendship. Hassan and his father move away, Amir and his father escape from Afghanistan during the Soviet war, and the tie seems broken forever. But 15 years later, Amir, now living in San Francisco, receives a call that sends him back to Afghanistan and straight into the heart of the darkest part of his history. The characters are strong-featured (though Hassan's cleft pallet, significant in the story, is all but invisible) and expressive, though murky coloring sometimes threatens to obscure linework. The art during Amir's recounting of his Afghan childhood is bathed in warm colors, contrasting well with the gray, muted colors of Afghanistan during Taliban rule. In a conflict that we now know has no easy solutions, a happy ending, while welcome, feels like nothing more than wishful thinking. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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