Rated of 5
by VW Khaled's Kite Runner not for kids
What does a successful doctor of internal medicine living in the Bay Area have in common with a kid flying a kite in Kabul, Afghanistan? Dr. Khaled Hosseini WAS the kid in Kabul, for one. I had the privilege of interviewing Hosseini in April, 2004 before he embarked on a demanding book tour of the U.S. and several other countries, where his novel is making quite an impression. Who knew? The popularity of kite flying around the world may have helped Hosseini with the warm reception of his very poignant story of Amir and his Hazara servant, Hassan. The two Afghan boys struggle with their caste roles in Kabul society and find themselves bound together over years and oceans, even beyond death. Khaled, whose family was given political asylum in America in 1980, created his young protagonist Amir to reflect his own experiences to a fair extent, he admits. And the colorful, vibrant kite-flying images held in his mind and heart since childhood definitely inspired him to write this book. Khaled compared the scars of Afghan-style kite-flying (where strings are coated with crushed glass to “cut” down other kites) to young American scrapes from skateboarding or other outdoor activities. He explained that “every boy was outside flying kites in winter, as common as playing catch here. In winter, we had no school, so we were always out in the cold wind with our kites.” Coining the term “kite runner,” Khaled refers to Amir’s young servant and companion Hassan, who runs to catch the other boys’ kites as Amir cuts them down. A winning duo, these boys grow to test each others’ integrity in heart-stirring and surprising ways. Early in the book, Amir is often challenged by Hassan’s unruffled loyalty. Amir later remembers Hassan’s haunting rebuke, “…that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.” Khaled’s story traces the harsh realities of the Afghan people through these two young men. One comes to America, but the other stays behind to create a startling legacy for his friend to find decades later. The journey back to one’s native country after devastation by warring factions is not a pleasant one. Khaled Hosseini has personally discovered this reality, as well. In 2003, he returned to Afghanistan and was powerfully affected. He plans to return again to gather material for another book. He has no family in his native land; they’ve all emigrated to California. Though happy to be in America, he feels for Afghanistan. Turmoil wrought by the former Soviet Union’s invasion and eight-year occupation, plus the subsequent Taliban rule gravely damaged his native country. Khaled admitted a small faction of Afghan expatriates has reacted negatively to his book. But he felt he must show truth in his writing, unlike the “glorified” version some would prefer. Khaled believes he wrote “what every Afghan knows is true, but is taboo to speak openly about.” He refused to write what he calls propaganda. What nerve, he remonstrated to me, that some fellow Afghans consider “all the pillaging, raping and ethnic cleansing done by Afghans themselves between 1992-1996 as nothing – but [my book] The Kite Runner is so bad?!” Obviously hitting home, striking nerves and flying in the face of adversity, Khaled Hosseini’s book is already published in ten nations now, with nine more to be added in the near future. Academy Award-winning Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) has purchased film rights to Khaled’s novel for a proposed Dreamworks Pictures film. A bit wary, perhaps, but certainly excited by the prospect, Khaled will be busy as a technical consultant when production begins. Interestingly, Khaled Hosseini grew up enjoying American western movies in Kabul, like The Magnificent Seven. He does not write using traditional outlines; instead he “sees each scene as in a movie,” then writes and watches it come to life. In the book’s opening chapter, Khaled’s protagonist, now an adult in America, receives a phone call from an old family friend living (and dying) in Pakistan. His last request takes Amir back to Afghanistan, carries him through disturbing nostalgiac scenes and catapults him through danger he has only heard about from more recent refugees. By the novel’s end, Amir returns wounded and wiser to his American way of life. Khaled’s powerful writing provokes a stark comparative reality when the old man comments to the visiting Amir, “I see America has infused you with the optimism that has made her so great…We’re a melancholic people, we Afghans…we wallow too much…we give in to loss, to suffering, accept it as a fact of life, even see it as necessary.” But, the kite can only fly when the adverse wind is blowing. A symbol emerges triumphant for Amir, for Khaled Hosseini, for all of us.
Rated of 5
by Matt Lintz Hope as a kite
It was a crisp clear January morning, where the deeper you inhaled, the more bitter the sting from the chilled winter air. The streets and countrysides were teeming with children, most battling kites far above the ground, into a remarkable silvery gray canopy of clouds. Those children who were not controlling the air campaigns above, chased down and attempted to capture the paper gladiators which had not been triumphant. The Place was Kabul, Afghanistan. The time was 1975, and the best Kite Flyer/Runner tandem to be found was Amir and Hassan. It is the relationship surrounding these two that spurred The Kite Runner to be hailed as a masterpiece of contemporary literature. Published in 1992, The Kite Runner was Dr. Khaled Hosseini’s inaugural attempt at authoring a novel. Issues such as violence, family, loyalty and displacement all come to bare as this tale unravels, all told through the eyes, ears and above all, heart, of Amir. All of the themes unearthed within the pages have been carefully crafted, as to resonate a mirror like parallel of Afghanistan’s own battle worn history. That history, scarred with ethnic cleavages, religious rifts and a tidal wave of political instability, has all but extinguished what has become a heavily diluted sense of pride and hope for the people of Afghanistan. Has that tumultuous history raised the price of peace so high that redemption has become as much a work of fiction as the novel itself?
The parallels begin by breathing life into the characters of Amir and Hassan. Amir, the son of Baba, a well to do merchant, was a Pashtun, while Hassan, his servant and later revealed half brother, was a Hazara. The relationship between these two was, at it’s core, duplicitous. They were, while in only each others company, the best of friends. They would play together, dream together and cause mischief together. Aside from Amir’s teasing and childish cruelty, they were, by most accounts, friends. In public however, they were Pashtun master and Hazara servant. Both knew their respective roles and neither ever attempted to deviate from them because, even at such a young age, both knew and respected the Afghan mores. Ironically, Hassan was the epitome of everything the Afghan culture admired; Honor, pride, loyalty, integrity and courage. Amir though, would not come to represent these qualities until much later in life. Baba too, shows a sense of duplicity. While acknowledging Hassan’s status of servant, he is treated much like a son (and fittingly so). His surgery is paid for by Baba and his care is never neglected. Because of the society, he is forced into living two lives, the inner and the outer. The parallel is an awkward one, displaying the impact culture can play in the lives of individuals within a society. Because the facet of religious and cultural status is capriciously held above that of merit, a natural attrition is created, lying feverishly dormant until finally compounded into combustion. The continual deprivation of a class of people by another leads to senseless bloodshed and avoidable war. This is illustrated not just by those in Afghanistan, but by most all of the nation states comprising the entirety of the globe. Look no further back than WWII to see how the world can be savaged by the disgustingly numbing truth.
Another parallel, mentioned quite fittingly after the first, is that of hypocrisy. One is hard pressed to find a character within the novel, aside from Ali, Hassan and Sorhab, that is not, to some level, plagued with this affliction. Much a fruit of the duality noted earlier, hypocrisy serves as a devil in waiting, kept below the surface in almost all of the characters. Baba’s culpability regarding his often quoted “one sin“, that of theft, being perhaps the most poignant literary example. Also, the General, who’s national pride and façade of Afghan perfection, is exposed through his collection of welfare, his refusal to take up gainful employment and his treatment of others. The reign of the various governments throughout the novel, too, is a seething hotbed of double standards. The Mujahedeen and the successor government of the Taliban were given control of the country, after the soviet withdrawal, under the pretext of equality, righteousness and Afghan propriety but soon began imposing self serving laws and butchering arbitrarily to genocidal proportions.
The value placed on family within the novel is paramount. Although there are elements of self righteousness and hypocrisy, there is also a tender sincerity and a bond between blood that is perhaps matched, but never surpassed in any other known culture. It is mentioned more than once in the book, how important family is to the Afghan community. It is even said that if you put two Afghani strangers in a room, within fifteen minutes they could find out how they were related. It was this reason, above all others, that Baba kept Hassan’s identity one of secrecy. If those in the Afghan community were to find out that a family’s bloodline had been “tainted” by Hazara blood, it would have meant shame and a veritable loss of everything he had worked to achieve. During Amir’s conversation with his In-Laws about adoption, the General went on a diatribe about the importance of blood and his point was never refuted. Amir and Soraya, although more Americanized than most Afghans, actually agreed with him. The bond of family is expressed quite bluntly and serves as one of the Afghan’s most endearing qualities but ironically, at the same time, shows all that is troubled within the culture.
Another word often used disparagingly and when extremism is displayed with regards to the focus on family, is tribalism. When the attribute of loyalty to a faction, group or family supercedes all other agents, including the ethics and thoughts of the individual, the term tribalism is given shape. It is the very waylaying of personal ethics and thought, and the promotion of a centralized, if not skewed, idealism that widens the cleavage of chaos within a society. This sense of tribalism, though not fully expressed within Baba’s or the General’s families, is seen in full when describing the reign of the Taliban. Dr. Hosseini illustrates quite effectively how fervently death and mutilation was cheered on within the football (soccer) stadium by Afghani spectators. Although we later learn about Baba’s sense of guilt and self hatred over his outward treatment of his son Hassan, he too displayed a sense of tribalism in accepting and complying with the cultural standards within his community. The parallel to reality here is self evident. Dr. Hosseini, while being interviewed, said he had gotten the depictions of the Taliban circling the arena in Pick Up trucks from actual footage of the events as they were broadcasted around the world. The destruction that the wars had so brutally generated, from the Soviets to the Taliban, was noted first hand from his visit to the crumbling rock, twisted steel and broken lives that had stolen the memory of his once beautiful homeland.
The reason Amir’s reaction to returning home was so honestly tragic, was because the words on the page were filled with the passion of Dr. Hosseini himself, having made the trip home and seeing the utter devastation firsthand. Before Afghanistan was totally raped by the dreadfulness of hate, both the author and main character had been displaced into America, much to the character, Amir’s, appreciation. He had carried such a weight of guilt for so long that he whole heartedly embraced his journey into America, a place that “had no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.” Before long he realized that no matter the geographical distance, his shame would continue to wage its own war within him. That was the reality of many of the displaced Afghans within the story. The General, Baba, and probably many of the other notables that they conversed with inside the Flea Market carried and tended to their own struggles with lives left behind. This is not to say that the displacement was an all bad thing. Much like the Bazaars back home, the Flea Market served as an makeshift Afghani marketplace. They had their mosques and their homes and most of Fremont, as mentioned by the author, was populated with Afghans. America, in a way, served as a place where the great aspects of Afghan culture could be remembered and practiced, but the negative aspects, unless harbored individually, could be forever left behind and lost. America also placed a large responsibility onto the character of Afghanis. Because Americans, the author noted, places much less, or at least different, value on family, there was no longer an outwardly social inclination towards tribalism. This meant that the Afghan experience, at least in America, ideally, could evolve.
The price of peace would appear to be quite high to those who remain in the war riddled country of Afghanistan. Throughout the novel, Dr. Hosseini makes mention of the escalation in violence and the even greater separation of ideas within the troubled country. These elements serve as fuel, continually poured over an already blazing environment. He writes at one point within the story that “Maybe….It was a hopeless place”, however the title of the book carries a symbolism that might suggest otherwise. Kite running was and is a great national past time within Afghanistan. It is a symbol of their heritage, history and pride. The soviet occupation prevented the running of kites due to obvious safety concerns, and under the Mujahedeen and Taliban it was outlawed. Only recently has the practice been re-instituted. Perhaps that is what hope is represented by within the novel. The kite represents hope. The novel begins with kites soaring high into the sky. Throughout the novel, kites are referred to less and less, except in memory. The last kite to be seen until the last page of the book had been the one clipped by Amir to win the festival and run by Hassan. Seemingly, as a harrowing foresight, the running of that kite signaled the ending of an era and the slow destruction of hope for what would turn out to be a very long time. As if to parallel Amir’s experience at the end of the novel with Afghanistan’s equally questionable future, Hosseini closes the novel with a particularly optimistic insight. “Because when Spring comes, it melts one snowflake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.” By writing this, Dr. Hosseini illustrates that he is not yet certain of his homeland’s future. He admits that the price of peace has risen greatly, but where a kite can be flown, maybe hope can still be risen. Perhaps, in Afghanistan, hope can still soar among that same silvery gray canopy of clouds that watched over them all so long ago.
Rated of 5
by Sabah The Kite Runners.
This is the kind of novel which you would not like to stop reading and once you finish reading it , it is going to stay with you for a very long time. Khalid Hosseini's debut novel has opened up issues that were people were scared to think about but what people needed to know. In the bonds of friendship of Amir and Hassan Khalid has let us know about a lot more that goes wrong in the deeps of Afghanistan.
Within this novel you will find an Afghanistan which is not the same anymore, an Afghanistan no soul gets to see anymore.This book is more then a novel about a mere friendship, its a journey that takes you to the time when Kabul was beautiful and the word "war" was still undiscovered. When Taliban had not yet entered the realm of beauty. While reading the book one can actually picture the beautiful country, walk through the mansions with thick hedges , admire the oriental furniture and almost taste the wonderful cherries and pomegranate on the trees.
This book is about Amir and Hassan.Amir who is born rich and a Sunni.Hassan who is a Shia, and Hazara, his only mistake. Amir who has a father who is the most influential and powerful man and Hassan who has a father who is crippled by nature and is nicknamed as "Babulu" . Amir is the literate one and Hassan is the smart clever yet the illiterate one.
Their friendship is a journey on its own.Amir reads and Hassan listens quitely. Amir commands and Hassan obeys not uttering a word.Amir is flies the Kite and Hassan is the kite runner.And it is here where the story turns a drastic point.Where no reader i presume would want to stop and keep the book down because it is at this point that everything changes.
This book touches a delicate issue of child abuse which is seldom discussed in our world so openly as Khalid Hussaini did. It does not shy away from talking about uneasy and usually not talked about subjects.It is only right that the author chose to describe the Horrors to us as we need to know about it.
But mostly Kite runners is a book about a love. Love that is not bonded in the shackles of "romance" only.
Its about Amir's guilt and how he redeems it getting what he deserved really.
And for all those who read it I ask you to ponder these few words which are one of the most beautiful words every written.
"For you a thousand times over"
The most outstanding work I have read about something which I can sort of relate to being a sunni muslim myself.
Thank you for bestowing us with this wonderful treasure.
Rated of 5
by Janet A touching story...
This is a GREAT book...go get it right now! I was a bit reluctant to read it as I didn't want another depressing stories about the Middle East. However, this was a very touching story about a young boy who happened to live in Afghanistan. It's a tear jerker that you will never forget...
Rated of 5
by Mike The Kite Runner
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!!!! This book is a must read. I would recomend that all freshman should read this book for their summer reading. I loved this book and can't wait to read anoher one of Khaled Hosseini books.
Rated of 5
by BK...NYC... Absolutely Phenomenal!!
This book was amazing. Throughout the entire story I was convinced that it was true. Everything felt so real. After finishing the novel, I looked up Hosseini's biography and I was completely surprised to find out that the entire story was fictitious. It was very hard to believe. The novel was touching in every way possible and it laced several different themes together. It was a story of friendship, love, struggle, fear, revenge......and this list goes on..............It's definitely a book I would recommend. I cannot wait until Dreaming in Titanic City comes out!!! Hosseini is purely genius!!! I read this novel twice and will gladly read a third, fourth, and fifth time!!
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...