With his new book due out on the stands this month, it was finally time for me to check out Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed 2003 novel, The Kite Runner. I loved this book and clearly understand why it was an internationally acclaimed New York Times bestseller.
The Kite Runner is the fictional story of an Afghani man who grew up priviledged in 1970s Afghanistan, an era in the country’s history far removed from the war stained world of the past 20 years. The narrative telling by the principal character, Amir, recounts his days growing up near Kabul with his father Baba, friend/servant Hassan and Hassan’s father, Ali. Amir and Hassan experience a life not altogether dissimilar from an American child growing up at that time–they go to school, casually meander through the neighboorhoods, fly kites as part of national tournaments, read books and occasionally see popular new movies from nearby Iran or the US. Life changes significantly for the major characters, and for Afghanistan in the early 1980s, with the Soviet invasion which later leads to an era of poverty, desolation and terror at the hands of the Taliban of the 1990s. While Amir and his father leave their country to start a new and safer life in the US, Hassan and his family are left to endure the difficulties of life as a member of the Hazara breed.
Amir is called back to Afghanistan over 15 years after leaving by a dying family friend. The country he discovers in 2001 is dramatically altered from the one he left and his return forever changes his life. He is not only faced with a war torn country but also required to directly overcome seemingly insurmountable personal challenges from his past.
I loved the writing style exhibited in this novel. Hosseini’s succint yet descriptive style eloquently captures the vivid imagery of the scenes and character’s reactions throughout this book. At the same time, this novel was useful to me for gaining a much clearer understanding of the historical and ethnic elements of Afghanistan’s past. I was able to learn a significant amount and gain a deeper appreciation for places like Kabul and Islamabad as well as the history of this ill-fated region of the world. I had never realized how different this Middle Eastern country was prior to the era of invasion and war that has plagued it following the end of monarchical rule in the late 1970s.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a powerful human interest story as well as those hoping to better understand the Middle East region. At the same time, I’m personally eager and enthusiastic about picking up a copy of Hosseini’s new book, A Thousand Splendid Suns as soon as possible. It certainly has much to live up to after having just loved his first book.