Author – Khaled Hosseini
Language – English
Publisher – Riverhead Books
Publication Date – May 29, 2003
Country – United States
ISBN – 1-57322-245-3
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a historical fiction which is set in Afghanistan and America at the times of the Soviet Afghan War. It is one of the most loved books by readers across the world. The Times describe the book as “Heart breaking”. It was a number one New York Times bestseller for over two years, with over seven million copies sold in the United States. It has also been made into a motion picture after being a bestselling novel.
The book is a beautiful and endearing tale of two friends, Amir and Hassan who grew up together in ”a peaceful but prejudiced Kabul”. They share a beautiful bond of friendship but the surrounding social prejudice intervenes in it. During their childhood years, they spend their days flying kites along the streets of Wazir Akbar Khan district. Amir occupies a special place in Hassan’s heart and he expresses his love for Amir in a few words, ”for you, a thousand times over”. These words happen to be the book’s most iconic lines. Hassan who was the servant’s son was a Hazara and suffered tremendous social and cultural discrimination for that. During a kite flying event, an incident changes their relationship forever. Eventually Hassan and his father move out of their house.
Their lives change dramatically when the Taliban arrives in Kabul and the Soviet Afghan War changes the entire atmosphere of the country. After 5 years, Amir and his father escape the country and move to America to start a new life. Amir continues to suffer with guilt for the past. It is after he grows up to be a successful writer that he receives a call from a familiar voice of the past and goes back to Kabul. The story takes a different turn at the end when Amir discovers the truth that his relationship with Hassan was deeper than he realised.
Born in Kabul, the author draws inspiration from his own life as well but the plot and characters of the book however are fictional. The characters of the book are beautifully woven and the story is unforgettable. Several conflicts within the plot makes the readers fall in love with the characters. The book created some controversy within Afghan readers as it portrayed Pashtuns as prejudiced towards Hazara people. The racial and religious extremism is deeply saddening and the violence is frightening. The kite has been portrayed as an important symbol which represents Amir’s guilt for his betrayal towards Hassan and thus he does not fly a kite after that incident until the very end.
The book encourages its readers to look at the world in a new way and provides a different perspective for a country which has long been stigmatized. The message conveyed by the book towards the ending offers some hope for its characters and also for war torn Afghanistan as well. The book is highly recommended and it is sure to make a lasting impression on readers.