Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I finally finished reading this book. And boy, it really is something.


I had seen the movie so I pretty much knew what to expect, but reading it in print was just a whole different kind of experience. Not sure if it was because I was already familiar with the story, or if it really has that effect, but each page felt loaded. Like there was something you wouldn’t want to miss.

The reviews you will find online will tell you that this book is about the unusual friendship between the rich Amir, and the servant’s son Hassan. They will also tell you that these boys are also different not just by virtue of their economic status, but of their ethnicity too. Though both Muslims and Afghans, one is Sunni, the other Shi’a. Even long ago, the dispute between both groups, and the persecution for one, has existed. The turmoil that to this day exists, is deeply rooted as it seems.

Hosseini gave us a glimpse of Kabul through the eyes of Amir. I don’t think I will ever visit Afghanistan in this lifetime, but Amir’s memory of Kabul before the war and conflict ravaged it is enough to make me wish I could. I felt Amir’s heart break too, when many many years after fleeing the home of his childhood, he came back to see how decades of fighting, war, and poverty, has changed everything.

It must have been difficult to keep politics out of this novel, but I think Hosseini succeeded in that. Though it definitely touched on many themes, the senselessness of war included, it is above all about forgiveness, redemption, honor and friendship.

It also showcased how children deal with different situations in their own unique way. Hassan, though sexually molested by a bully, continued to be a strong and hopeful young boy. He even learned to read and write, and grew up to be a wonderful husband and father. I have no doubt that his experience that fateful afternoon running the last kite had given him a deep scar, but it did not torment him the way the knowledge of it tormented Amir.

This is as much a story of the two boys, as it is the story of Kabul. Amir was able to find redemption, not exactly from the hands of his dear Hassan, but through Sohrab. His father was also able to find it in seeing his young son grow up to be an honorable man. But when will Kabul be redeemed?