Books

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini.

I read this novel for the Journey Book Group. Some that I read for the group, I would not finish if not for the group. This book, although not one I would have chosen, I would have finished. It’s not that I particularly enjoyed reading it but the tale drew me in.

In The Kite Runner, the kite plays a key role for the main protagonists in the story, as does the kite runner himself; kites are a major connection between the main protagonists in the novel. In it’s most simplified form, The Kite Runner is a journey from youth to manhood but the tale is not that simple. Beyond the journey to manhood there is also a story of redemption, forgiveness and of inner growth.

The story begins in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the Russian occupation and it is decades later that it comes to a conclusion, after the Shorawi (Russians) are driven out and the Taliban take control, which is little or no improvement for the ordinary citizens of the country. This is not just a story of two boys growing up, who share a bond yet are not friends, it is a story of attitudes between different casts (if that is the right term), the Pashtuns and Hazzaras, and how they treat each other or rather how one treats the other.

In a brutal act on one boy, witnessed by the other who failed to act to stop it, the course of both their lives is changed forever. Once that act had taken place, elements of the story became a bit like a Shakespearean tragedy, with an inevitability about certain of the events that follow, brought about by the flaw in the character of one of the main characters. Khaled Hosseini paints a vivid picture of an Afghanistan I have never, and probably never will, see.

The book was my first introduction to an Afghanistan that was not just seen through news reports on the BBC. Hosseini weaves his tale around true events events where, if you saw any of the news reports, what befalls his characters is believable as they struggle with events not only in their homeland but learning to fit in to their adopted country after fleeing Afghanistan.

This was the first book by Hosseini I have read and, unless the book group chooses another by him, will probably be the last. Don’t think though, that it is because I think him a bad writer, on the contrary The Kite Runner is well written and evocative and I can imagine will affect more sensitive readers much more than it did me. It just doesn’t happen to be the kind of story I like but you might.

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the
fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering it’s things, packing
up and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”

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