“For you, a thousand times over…”
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. Set in Afghanistan, the book describes a beautiful country that is on the brink of destruction and the way that its people survive.
It follows Amir from childhood in Kabul to his adult life in the US where he escaped with his father. It looks about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
The Kite Runner is one of those books which you think about for days afterwards. The story itself could be about any two children, in any part of the world. Friends, but from different classes, never really worrying about it until they get older when the differences between them far outweigh the similarities. Amir and Hassan are just boys, playing together, until one memorable day which sets in motion a series of events and shapes the future of both of them.
The first part of the book looks at childhood and how each of us naively looks at the world; later it tells of the escape and Amir’s life in America with his father. The final part takes place when Amir returns to Afghanistan to put right his wrong.
Khaled Hosseini is a beautiful writer. His words and descriptions produce a location like no other and his readers can see, smell and hear the sounds of Kabul. He is brutally honest in his storytelling, showing the harsh truth of the world. Death, rape and loss are prominent themes throughout and each character has a profound sadness about them.
I loved the book, but I also found it long-winded. It ebbed and flowed and parts of it seemed to drag. Amir, the protagonist is not entirely likeable; in fact he is a spoilt child, with little regard to repercussions and consequences, who grows up into a weak man. He also has no concept of loyalty. Despite taking risks for Sohrab towards the end of the book, he still betrays him with near fatal consequences.
That said, as a whole, the book is well-written, poignant and thought-provoking, with good characterisation.
Have you read any of Khaled Hosseini’s books? Did you enjoy them?