Monday, 4 May 2009

Book Review: The KiteRunner

Without revealing much of the story and its plot, what i have tried to do here is give an account of what the reader goes through in this stunning piece of work from Khaled Hosseini. It is a recommended read for all. In short, the novel gives a transparent, devastating and ruthless account of lives in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. I was pretty much moved by the way the story shapes up to a fitting climax at the end.This post would be more of what one feels while traversing through the astounding waves of emotion and thought in this book, than being a book review.

I want to start with a few lines on the author. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul where his father worked as a janitor for the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry. In 1970, Hosseini and his family moved to Tehran where his father worked for the Ambassador of Afghanistan. When Khaled Hosseini was a child, he read a great deal of Persian Poetry and many other translated works. Hosseini's memories of peaceful pre-Soviet era Afghanistan, as well as his personal experiences with the hazara tribes of Afghanistan led to the writing of his first novel, The Kite Runner.

The novel is a straight forward and an overly transparent account of Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion. He takes us through the period that marked the fall of Monarchy in Afghanistan with the help of two characters Amir and Hassan. Amir is portrayed as a well off boy from the Pashtun Community (read superior community) who is brought up in the typical rich family arena. Hassan is from the Hazara tribe which forms a small minority of Sunni Muslims in Afghanistan. The characters of Amir's father and his Friend Rahim Khan are well sketched and respectable. The story narrates the life of the protagonist Amir right from his childhood days. Hosseini has drafted an excellent account of Amir's childhood days with Hassan. Hassan who is the son of Amir's father's servent Ali is the trump card in the pack. Hosseini has used this character to keep the readers' emotions at a high throughout the book.

Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without even watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally his father's praise. Hassan goes to run the last cut kite, a great trophy, for Amir saying "For you, a thousand times over." This part of the novel is where the reader is prone to get really fervent. Hassan's rape and further complications due to the village "Teen King" Assef moves one quite a bit. Amir who pays his price for socializing with a Hazara finally frames his friend and his family's exodus by planting a watch and some money under Hassan's mattress; he falsely confesses.

After the Russian invasion Amir and his dad flee to Peshawar and later to America. He marries an Afghan in the streets of Fremont, California, with who he falls in love. The second part of the novel takes you through Amir's return to Peshawar and then to Kabul to meet Rahim Khan where he learns about Hassan's death and a few other confessions that increase his desire to meet the lone survivor of the Hazara Family. His pursuit for Hassan's only son who is in Kabul is very well written and makes the reader involved. The last part of the novel gives many answers to the questions that Amir had had since childhood. The "All's well that ends well" climax gives a sigh of relief to the reader after going through tough emotions all through the novel.

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