Summary and book reviews of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2003, 368 pages
    Apr 2004, 384 pages

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Book Summary

An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject—the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut.

Chapter One
December 2001

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.

One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins. After I hung up, I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature boats sailed, propelled by a crisp breeze. Then I glanced up and saw a pair of kites, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Khaled Hosseini's stunning debut novel The Kite Runner follows a young boy, Amir, as he faces the challenges that confront him on the path to manhood - testing friendships, finding love, cheating death, accepting faults, and gaining understanding. Living in Afghanistan in the 1960s, Amir enjoys a life of privilege that is shaped by his brotherly friendship with Hassan, his servant's son. Amir lives in constant want of his father's attention, feeling that he is a failure in his father's eyes. Hassan, on the other hand, seems to be able to do no wrong. Their friendship is a complex tapestry of love, loss, privilege, and shame.

Striving to be the son his father always wanted, Amir takes on the weight of living up to ...
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Media Reviews

USA Today

...a haunting morality tale set in Afghanistan and California, covering nearly 40 years.

San Francisco Chronicle

A marvelous first novel.... It's an old-fashioned kind of novel that really sweeps you away.


...provides an extraordinary perspective on the struggles of a country that...had been for too long ignored or misunderstood.

Publishers Weekly

.... stunning debut novel...the character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut....add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium.

Library Journal - Rebecca Stuhr

Starred Review. The characters of Amir and his father, their relationship, and the relationship of Hassan and Amir are all carefully and convincingly described and developed. Hosseini, now a doctor in California, is possibly the only Afghan author writing in English, and his first novel is recommended for all public and academic libraries.

Kirkus Reviews

Here’s a real find a striking debut from an Afghan now living in the US. His passionate story of betrayal and redemption is framed by Afghanistan’s tragic recent past.... irresistible.

Reader Reviews


The Kite Runner is by far the greatest book I have ever read. Absolute perfection.


The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was one of the most intriguing, attention grabbing books I have ever read. This vivid tale is about two young boys, Amir and Hassan, growing up in Afghanistan and their adventures of kite running and kite fighting. ...   Read More


Thank you!
This book gave me a glimpse of what life was like 30 years ago in Afghanistan and it validates a reason for our troops to be there now. I wish we could end the war now but how could we turn our backs on these people? This book will be a must read ...   Read More


Amazing novel!
This book is a wonderful book. It depicts the conflicts about other countries, as well as self-conflict that these children and families deal with everyday. Overall, a wonderful story line and a great pleasure read.

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