Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Kite Runner

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


This is a review of the book by Khaled Hosseini. I know that the movie based on this book is currently in the pre-production stage. It is a very poignant story about 2 childhood friends, Amir and Hassan. One is the son of a distinguished merchant living in luxury in Kabul while Hassan is the son of their servant, Ali. Together they form a deep bond despite the difference in their ethnic and civil background. Their main activity is to go kite running. A favorite past time of all the children living in Afghanistan during the glorious years of the monarchy. We witness their friendship take an ugly turn when Amir betrays his friend, Hassan. He forces his father to let the servants go when he falsely accuses them of stealing. We are also lead to experience the turmoil that Afghanistan goes through when the Soviets invade the land. Amir and his father are lucky enough to escape during the Soviet invasion and make a fresh start in the United States of America. There, Amir and his father get a second chance to mend their awkward relationship towards each other. Amir meets his soul mate, Soraya, a young Afghan woman marries her and despite their inability to have children, their life is blissful yet routinely ordinary. Until, one day, he receives word from an old friend of his father, Rahim Khan about Hassan. After almost 15 years, Amir returns to Afghanistan to sort out his life and tries to redeem himself, to correct his past mistakes. By this time, the Talibans have driven away the Soviets and Afghanistan is transformed into a strictly Islamic state where total anarchy reigns. Amir discovers the truth about Hassan's identity and must make extreme sacrifices to save Sohrab (Hassan's son) from the hands of the Taliban.

I won't reveal the significant ending of the story. I admire the simplistic approach of the author to describe the events in the story. The characters are amazingly humane. You get the feeling that they are not merely fictional caricatures but actually exist in real life. The extreme turmoil that Afghanistan and its citizens went through and is still experiencing right now is graphically detailed in several sentences. This is the author's first English book so he uses very basic words yet the message comes across in a very powerful manner. You can feel the poignancy in its sheer simplicity. I was drawn into a really different culture. A very vibrant society thriving in a land steeped with a rich colorful heritage. A world away from the dark propaganda that the media tends to portray when we think of Afghanistan. I am certainly looking forward to watching the movie. I just hope that they don't make it into a big Hollywood production. This would be very unfortunate because it would ruin the raw essence of this very emotionally charged book.

My favorite line in the book is when Amir says:

"If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab and me ends with happiness, I wouldn't know what to say.
Does anybody's?
After all, life is not a Hindi movie.
Zendagi migzara, Afghans like to say:
Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end, kamyab, nah-kam, crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis.
I wouldn't know how to answer that question."

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