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Monday, January 21, 2008

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

What if your life is built upon stacks of lies? What if your past mistake haunts you until this very second? What if the handful people that know about your sin try to help you but they are facing death as time closes by? What if there is a dark side in each and every one of us, but somehow there is still also one last chance to make everything good again?

The Kite Runner is a heart-breaking story about friendship and loyalty, betrayal and treachery, happiness and misery, told in a beautiful, unforgettable way by the author, Khaled Hosseini. It is about what happens to two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, and their families, all living in Kabul. They shared the same fate: never got the love of a mother. Amir's father, Baba, was a successful Pasthun businessman while Hassan's, Ali, was only Baba's servant. Ali and therefore also his son Hassan were Hazara, often depicted as an inferior race. Ali and Baba grew up together, Hassan was always treated as his own son by Baba and this fatherly affection became a mystery to Amir day by day. Hassan was extremely loyal to Amir, he never disappointed nor harmed Amir during his lifetime.

Kite flying was a popular thing at their time and it quickly became one of their hobbies. Amir always flew the kite, Hassan was the one who run to catch the defeated kites. They were perfect as a team, everything was full of joy and happiness. Or it seemed to. Baba was tough on Amir, often too tough, and this made Amir trying hard to impress his father. He set to win the upcoming major kite tournament and to get the last kite that he would beat. Of course with the help of Hassan. But for the sake of making his Baba proud of him, Amir made a terrible mistake due to his cowardice that he would regret in the next three decades. Even worse, Hassan never wanted to take any revenge, which put more shame to Amir.

Political turmoil (the invasion of Russia) forced Baba and Amir to move to California. They left behind their past, Baba took a simple job in a gas station, Amir continued his education. Soon he found the woman of his life and they got married. The happiness however did not last long. One tragedy came after another. At one time, he received a call from Pakistan, with the remark There is a way to be good again as it was made in passing but somehow this troubled Amir's mind. He flew back, not to realize that it became the start of another big chapter in his life: to face things he ran away from before.

Although one might think the central theme here is a classic, The Kite Runner is quite different. It is somehow remarkable because, not only it's beautifully written and easy to understand at the same time, it's also provocative, emotional and compulsive. Afghanistan political and social situations are wonderfully depicted, they make the story more believable and convincing. Amir is the sole narrator, you can feel his depth of feeling when he cries and when he smiles. And by the time you reach for you a thousand times over, don't expect you can put the book down.

P.S: The Kite Runner is the debut novel of Khaled Hosseini but it was on New York Times best-seller list for two years and sold four million copies. I can't wait to see his next one: One Thousand Splendid Sun. A movie based on The Kite Runner (with the same title), which is out already or will be out soon, is definitely also a must for me.


Anonymous said...

This was the summer reading for Duke University freshmen two years ago! Great book.

Javier said...

Read this two summers ago, an absolute masterpiece. The movie was great too! A thousand Splendid Suns is even better so make sure to read it.