Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Kite Runner.

“A powerful book…no frills, no nonsense, just hard, spare prose…an intimate account of family and friendship, betrayal and salvation that requires no atlas or translation to engage and enlighten us. Parts of The Kite Runner are raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written.”
~The Washington Post Book World

You may have noticed that The Kite Runner has been "currently on my nightstand" (on the right sidebar) for quite some time. It's true. It, along with a few other books, has had a spot on my nightstand for awhile. At long last, I found the time to finish it recently.

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Pages: 371
Published: 2004

Generally, I enjoy nonfiction over fiction, but this was an exception. The characters, while fictional, were in a sense very real, telling stories about Afghanistan's history, its culture, its religion, its prejudices, and its wars. Beginning during the last peaceful years of the monarchy in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner paints the picture of the life of Amir, an upper-class Pashtun/Sunni boy, and his friendship with the son of his father's Hazara/Shi'a servant, Hassan. Although their friendship is quite close in the early years, Amir feels conflicted and cannot look past their differences to see the friendship for what it really is, a true friendship. Amir allows their relationship to be filled with elements of a master/servant relationship. Despite this dynamic, and the constant reminder that Pashtun heritage is far more preferred, Hassan will do anything for Amir “a thousand times over.”

The Kite Runner drew me into a world that was nearly completely foreign to me: Afghanistan, its culture, its history, its values. Amazing, it was, to read how peaceful and "normal" Kabul seemed in the days before the Russians invaded and the war took over. The devastation Amir encountered when he returned to Kabul reminded me how destructive war can really be. The overwhelming thoughts I had throughout the book were those of the power of love, forgiveness, friendship, and loyalty.

A few of my favorite lines:

-- After Amir tells General Taheri, a family friend who later becomes his father-in-law, that he is a writer of fiction, General Taheri says, "Ah, a storyteller. Well, people need stories to divert them at difficult times like this." p 139

--Hassan's mother left him as a baby, but returns when he is married with a child. Hassan and his wife welcome her, nurse her back to health, and catch up on lost years. But apparently he never asked his mother where she had been or why she had left, and she never told. "I guess some stories do not need telling." p 211

--After paying an unthinkable price of $75/night for a run down, dirty hotel room, to a man with three little girls clinging to his legs, Amir says he didn't mind the price. "Exploitation to finance a beach house in Hawaii was one thing. Doing it to feed your kids was another." p 265

--Upon watching how quickly Sohrab, Hassan's son, fell asleep following a traumatic episode, Amir writes, "I waited, rocked him until his breathing slowed and his body slackened. I remembered something I had read somewhere a long time ago: That's how children deal with terror. They fall asleep." p 342

The Kite Runner made me wince, laugh, smile, cry, and sigh over and over again. I tend to be drawn to books documenting the hardships people endure in life. I'm not sure why; maybe, it helps me to feel grateful for what I have. Also, I am inspired, time and time again, by the resilience and determination people drum up in times of adversity, and the way trials can shape one's character. This book was no exception. It was powerful. Now on to A Thousand Splendid Suns!


Kimberlee Koplin Mills St. Clair said...

It was a fabulous book. I loved it...hard to read (in the sense that I don't take pleasure in how people treat each other...) but, a wonderful insight into a culture that seems so far from my own, but in reality, so similar.

Another to add to your list, if you haven't read it yet, is "The Alchemist" by Paulo Cohelo...he is an amazing author.

Anonymous said...

Best line, "There is a way to be good again." Same message as Jesus Christ's message.

Sherine said...

Love to hear what you think of a thousand splendid suns.. I preferred it to kite runner.