Reason for Selecting this book: One of the most wonderful and memorable tales on friendship, found and lost.
About the Author: Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afganisthan in 1965. His father was a diplomat in the Afgan foreign ministry and his mother a teacher in a school in Kabul. His first work The Kite Runner was published in 2003 followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns, which was also a critical and commercial success.
Background: The story is set in the backdrop of the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban and the subsequent demise of its culture and society of old.
Writing style: The style and language of Hosseini is lucid and quite simple. The text seems often like a diary and autobiographical perhaps owing to some of it being derived from the author’s own childhood in Kabul, where the story is set.
Use of sources and research: http://www.khaledhosseini.com/hosseini-bio.html
Genre of this book: Novel(Drama)
Outline of the Story
Kite Runner(2003) by Khaled Hosseini often reads like a fable, a parable of love, friendship and above all redemption. Though it would be naÃ¯ve to limit the novel and its themes to just these three facets, Kite Runner is a lot more. The history of a troubled and savaged nation told in miniature. The rise of an extremist group that would take control over the war torn and rugged land and above all a poignant tale of love, friendship, loss and filial relationship.
The main protagonist is Amir. His father is a successful business man in Kabul and quite wealthy. Amir, however as a little boy is insecure since nothing that he does is good enough in the eyes of his father. His father wanted him to be a soccer player whereas Amir was more into writing and kite flying. It his through his eyes and life that Afganisthan is drawn for us.It his friendship and search for atonement that form the pivot of the novel.
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Hassan: Amir’s best friend and also the son of Ali, their servant. Hassan is of lower strata of society and also disfigured with a cleft lip. However he loves Amir devotedly and often comes to his help. He even protects Amir from the local bullies. Strangely, Hassan is everything that Amir’s father wanted in Amir. This led Amir to be sometimes envious of Hassan. However it is their winning of the kite flying tournament that forms one of the memorable instances of the novel. Hassan is the best kite runner. Indeed it is him on which the book has been titled.
Rahim Khan is Amir’s father’s business associate as well as close friend. It is he who shields and often shelters Amir from his over critical father. It is also him, who advises him to come over from America in order to save Sohrab, Hassan’s son from the twisted orphanage.
Assef is the proverbial villain. He was the bully of Amir’s childhood and also the person who leads the sexual assault on Hassan. Later when Amir comes back to Taliban ruled Kabul, he finds that it is Assef who is one of the Taliban leaders and it is he who has bought Sohrab for his salacious sexual appetite. He is the very incarnation of evil and quite easily lives up to the popular impression of the Taliban around the world.
The novel at one level is also an autobiography of Hosseini, who himself was born in Kabul and was forced to relocate in the USA after the USSR invaded Afganisthan hence disabling his family’s return from Paris, where his father was stationed in the embassy. Despite living outside Afganisthan and Kabul for the most part of his life, he spent his childhood till eleven years of age there. The novel too starts off with Amir in his childhood. Khaled has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through The Khaled Hosseini Foundation  hence suggesting that Afganisthan holds more than mere sentimental and nostalgic interest for Hosseini. Through Kite Runner, he perhaps attempts not only re-familiarise himself with his own land of birth but also present a contrasting picture of it to the West, where currently Afganisthan symbolizes all that threatens their national security. Through his depiction we get the Afganisthan and Kabul of old but scarcely known, where Michael Jackson, Hollywood, alcohol and of course kite flying, was quite popular. Afganisthan which wasn’t as divorced from the West as it later became, first from the Soviet invasion and later by the Taliban rule. The escape from Afganisthan that Amir and father makes is symptomatic of an entire generation of Afganis who fled their country after the Soviet invasion. Many sought refuge in Pakistan and other more well off in the US. Hence a deep and tragic history underlines Kite Runner, a history of a country and its people, ravaged perhaps beyond salvage by war and extremists.
Theme and Plot:
At the centre of the novel lies a beautiful and sensitive story of friendship and love. The friendship of Amir and Hassan, son of the servant of his house, is most vividly and exquisitely rendered. The moments of their time together, the kite flying and running is etched with such artistry and feeling that it becomes unforgettable. It is simple yet endearing, short yet everlasting. Such is the magnitude of the beautiful relation called friendship penned by Hosseini in Kite Runner. Furthermore what makes this friendship eternal and this novel so grand in its depiction of the most cherished human sentiments is the search for redemption or absolution by Amir. Their friendship sadly ended due to a childish error and cowardice on the part of Amir forcing Hassan and his father to leave Amir’s household. Almost more than two decades later when Amir is married and successful as a novelist in the US, he receives a call from an ailing Rahim Khan, his father’s close friend. He asks Amir to come to Afganishthan, he enigmatically tells Amir that “there is a way to be good again.” Still haunted by his betrayal and cowardice and not knowing of what had become of his best friend Hassan, he decides to go. Thus beginning the final leg of Amir’s journey, the journey of atonement and finding a lost friendship. The closing chapters where Amir tries to find Sohrab, the late Hassan’s son, provides a disturbing and gruesome representation of Afganisthan under the Taliban regime. These sections however have been controversial and have been questioned regarding their veracity. “The Kite Runner has been accused of hindering Western understanding of the Taliban by portraying Taliban members as representatives of various alleged Western myths of evil ( for example, Assef’s pedophilia, Nazism, drug abuse and sadism, and the fact that he is an executioner).The American Library Association reports that The Kite Runner is one of its most-challenged books of 2008, with multiple attempts to remove it from libraries due to “offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Culture banned the film from distribution in cinemas or DVD stores, citing the possibility that the movie’s ethnically charged rape scene could incite racial violence within Afghanistan.”  Despite this, these sections are perhaps the most riveting and gripping sections of the book and also critical to the saga of Amir.
Analysis and evaluation of text
The Kite Runner is a simple, straight-to-heart kind of story. It does not involve complicated relationship or psychological explorations. However it does paint a wonderful almost poetic picture of friendship. What I find most fascinating about the text is the Afganisthan that perhaps few are aware of. The common pereception that it is a lawless land of tribal warlords, forever being the centre of expansion and colonial plans by stronger nations, the origin of the Taliban and personalities like Osama Bin Laden but Hosseini shows that it wasn’t so always. It’s capital Kabul was an urban modern city like any other place in the world till the Soviets decided something else for the land. The story is dramatic, almost Bollywoodish in its depiction of friendship lost and the quest to retrieve it. Here, I do not, use the term ‘Bollywoodish’ in a derogatory sense but in a sense where I mean to imply that it appeals to me like one of the old masala yarns in the “Yaadon Ki Baarat” mould. I also find the depiction of the life of refugees in the US quite interesting and how they have carved out their own homelands and cultures in their new foreign homes amuses. Certainly the crowning glory of the text is Hassan and his friendship. Despite him being only present till the first quarter of the text, Hassan the kite runner remains with us long after the close of the text. “For you, a thousand times over.” , echoes throughout the text since the moment Hassan first utters it in testament to his eternal friendship.
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In a strange way the tale echoes and resembles Pather Panchali, the Bengali classic made eternal by Satyajit Ray. This novel too tells the tale of the journey of a boy from his home or roots to a country far beyond and different from where he grew. It tells the story of Amir, like Apu, who grows up and faces the changing world around him. A journey from tradition to modernity here symbolized by Afganisthan and America respectively. Here too Amir becomes a writer just like Apu in the Apu trilogy of Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay. However Kite Runner depicts a much harsher reality, a much horrifying state of things where war, rape, bloodshed,etc resonate viciously in the pages.
Evaluate the overall impact of this book to the audience it is intended for:
The novel’s phenomenal success is a powerful witness to the impact of the book on readers. Yes, it’s appeal goes beyond just the East but also the West, “it was the first 2005 best seller in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan”  . A film too of the same name was made in 2007 on the novel by director Marc Forster of Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland and Quantum of Solace fame. Despite the film being more or less faithful to the book, I personally found it not as nearly stimulating or heartwarming as the novel. It seemed merely an attempt to ride the success of the novel. Kite Runner, the novel is a text that despite being rooted in a land and culture far removed from our own somehow still resonate our own memories of friendship and our homes which many of us live far from. I think, that is where it appeals most to the reader irrespective of his nationality, culture and race. I would like to elucidate the appeal of the text to readers with the impact it had on me ppersonally.After I had finished the last page of the novel, I somehow couldn’t help but reminiscing my own memories of childhood and the place where I was born. I live currently not very far from my birth place yet I did not find as many opportunities of revisits as I would have loved owing to my hectic college routine. However Kite Runner prompted this sudden flashback in me and strangely I missed my hometown and my friends there terribly. I suddenly realized I had grown up and made a fairly large distance from my childhoodâ€¦.Perhaps I can be blamed for being oversentimental or nostalgic but I did make that revisit to my hometown and my friends the very next day. It is not every day that a book touches my heart and soul but Kite Runner certainly did and I believe perhaps it is there where Hosseini triumphs.
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