The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
After a “splendid” A Thousand Splendid Suns, I had my hands on another book from Khaled Hosseini “The Kite Runner”. This was the first book the blessed Afghani author wrote. It won him a lot of laurels. Well, what can I say about a book that has been a best seller for years altogether and is now made into a movie. However, here I am, just jotting down what I liked and I did not like in that fantastic work of Khaled Hosseini.
The Kite Runner is the story of two boys, Amir and Hassan. Amir feels that he is being neglected by his father and craves for the love of his baba, he some how wants to see love, affection and pride for him in the eyes of his father. Hassan, his servant’s son, wants love, joy and affection from his friend Amir. While Amir is the son of a very rich pashto businessman, Hassan is a hazara, he and his family were serving Amir’s family for years now. These boys enjoy each others company, they play together, read the story books together and yes, they do fly kites together. While Amir flies the kites very well, Hassan has this uncanny ability to predict the exact location where a kite can land once it is cut off mid air. Naturally, he runs the kites for Amir.
As fate would have it, Amir ends up having one of his greatest triumphs of his life and also one of the biggest disasters of it on the same day. What was it? How
does this once incident change his life and Hassan’s life? What is the sin that gets committed on that day? Is there redemption? Will Amir ever be able to gain the true love of his father? Will he ever be able to pay back his debt to Hassan? Do read the book for the answers.
A fantastic plot, to me the strength of the book is the plot. Some of the twists and turns are superb. The author weaves a fantastic picture of Afghanistan. The people and their customs & values were very well portrayed. This book too is set up in the latter half of the twentieth century, a period that left Afghanistan wounded and torn by the internal strife, sorawi , Mujahideen and Taliban. The scars these wars leave on people were very well portrayed.
Khaled Hosseini’s characters are always interesting, the way he depicts them is always fantastic. They are not hollow and shallow, each of them are sculptures that were moulded with utmost care, the emotional upheaval, the repentance and the way they crave for redemption for a sin committed knowingly or unknowingly are portrayed in a manner that is just awesome. I like his eye for the detail and the way he portrays the day to day happenings and the subtleties of life. To me, these subtleties and day to day happenings convey more about a person than his/her behaviour on a special day, under special circumstances in a special place. The characters seem so real and one can identify oneself with them.
As in the other book “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, I got to see many quotes here and enjoyed reading them. I simply loved them. The best part with the author is that he makes things look so natural and brings out profound thoughts in seemingly normal conversations. Just check this one here,
“She said, ‘I’m so afraid.’ And I said, ‘why?,’ and she said, ‘Because I’m so profoundly happy, Dr. Rasul. Happiness like this is frightening.’ I asked her why and she said, ‘They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.”
Awesome isn’t it ? when you read this in the book you will be surprised like how a seemingly normal conversation gives you a profound message as serious as this.
Coming to the other parts, I practically struggled very hard in the initial pages of the book, it was tough for me because the protagonist paints a bad picture of himself and I personally cannot take such things. Due to this inherent bias of mine I had a tough time finishing the first 100 pages or so of the book, but then once the protagonist grows up I was finding it good. This is personal issue for me and yes, this might not be the case with most of the others. That apart nothing much to complain about. The pace of the narrative also was fairly good. After that initial slump, It was a page-turner for me. Particularly, once the protagonist returns to Asia you are always on the edge to find out what’s going to come next. This book also made me think about the unfortunate lives of the kids who had been orphaned by the war. It is indeed heart wrenching that those kids suffer for no mistake of theirs. It something that reminds us of our duties, we ought to do our little in helping them.
When you have read two books from the same author, that too in less than a month’s time, it is hard to stay away from comparison. By a strange stroke of fate, I read the second book first and the first one next. Hence, somehow I still like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” more than this one. That does not take away anything from The KiteRunner, the book is awesome its just that the other book is much more wonderful than this.
Khaled is a gifted story teller and his stories revolve around the grief, panic and sadness that engulfed the lives of most Afghans in the latter part of 20th century. His books will not give us the reasons of the political strife or the reasons behind the rise of forces like Taliban. His books speak about how it was to live under them. Do read his books, they are just awesome. I too am hoping that Khaled would write some thing that gives us an overview or a back ground of why there was so much of strife in the first place. It would be awesome to learn the socio-political events that created a force like Taliban.
P.S. : I have already bought a copy of “And the Mountains Echoed”, the third book of Khaled Hosseini. But then I would like to give it a try only after some time. I somehow have been reading too much about Afghans and Islamic lands for the last few months, Kohinoor, Aatish, Tasseer and two books from Khaled were all set up in these areas only, so I would try some other genre before I comeback to Khaled and the Afghans again.