Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

I am not usually fond of reading modern books about people. And I do not mean biographies but rather books written in that sort of narrative style. Also I found that a lot of South Asian writers have been pimped vivaciously by the western media and critics when in fact their writing is not so amazing at all. So when I was given ‘The Kite Runner’ it sat on my shelf for a week while I read Harry Potter. Once I was done with that I had the reading bug so I picked up this book with a not so intriguing cover.

As I mentioned before, the book is written as a narrative from the first person, Amir, the main character of the book. The writing style was smooth and simple which allowed me to be easily absorbed into the story. It was as if I were reading a persons journal or being told a story by a friend and this form was maintained through out the novel, which I found very comfortable. At times Hosseini’s account was even poetic and his vivid descriptions quite stirring. From the beginning of the story the author has laid the grounds for suspense. Amir is living in the United States and has been called back to Afghanistan by his uncle offering him ‘a way to be good again’. From there the tale continues to unwind as the pivotal character sorts through his emotions and thoughts taking us between flash backs from his childhood growing up in Afghanistan and the series of events placing him where he is now. As far as this aspect f the book goes, I would say the storyline is interesting and entertaining. A reader is compelled to turn the page and find out the fate of the stories characters which I think is very important in any novel. I began to actually care about the people in the story.

I would not like to give away any important details of this book because it is defiantly a good read. It took me only a week of very slow reading to get through it and once I put it down I was reminded of a book I had read in Humanities class, ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe. Our instructor used that novel to open doors to numerous discussions and issues proposed by that story, regarding sexism in society to religion. ‘Things Fall Apart’ addressed and invited interrogation of those issues in some way or another. I feel that ‘The Kite Runner’ similarly addresses a variety or issues that should concern people today with its multiple layers. On one level you have the emotional tale of a man fighting the ghosts of his past, on the other you have his battle taking place in a war torn Afghanistan. As he grows we also see how Kabul was once a jewel in South Asia and how it becomes what we have some to know it now, a name announced on new channels synonymously with suicide bombing, terrorist, casualties, and war. Houseini does not shy away from dangerous topics as he indirectly criticizes the Muslim religion and he praises it as well, and openly mocks the hypocrisy of the Taliban. There are other issues that readers might notice and find worthy of debate like the role of women is Afghan society or the integration of modern day refugees into western society.

There are so many areas this tale brushes across and at the heart of it there is a plot that will at times cause you to smile and at others bring tears to your eyes. It does have its fair share of flaws as well but over all I found ‘The Kite Runner’ to be quite worthwhile. It is not a book I would bother reading more than once nor will I look out for more books in this genre or even by this author. I do not think it is a definitive study of the Taliban or the recent history of Afghanistan but it did open my eyes to the subject and make me think of Afghanistan in more of a human sense. Hosseni sheds light on the culture and traditions of his people and any Afghan reading this book would be infected with a sense of pride and nostalgia.

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