The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini's powerhouse debut novel, was recommended to me by a friend whose literary tastes I'd never previously had the opportunity to compare with my own. It's always reassuring to me when I find that someone I respect has standards that reasonably approximate my own. The novel is currently a bestseller, and is hailed as the first Afghan novel written in English. I liked The Kite Runner enough to read it through twice. It was a gripping read the first time around. It held my attention the second time as well, but the harrowing themes in this novel made me a little melancholic.

The Kite Runner is the story of two boys growing up in Kabul. Amir, a bookish and unathletic boy, struggles for the approval and love of his respected business-man-about-town father. Hassan is the son of their family's servant, and a member of the despised Hazara minority. The boys are close in age, and unspoken best friends despite their vastly different social status. In many ways, the boys are very different. Yet Amir's father insists that they share a kinship of sorts, for both motherless boys were nursed by the same woman. Time and history have a way of changing many things that seem eternal in childhood. As the boys grow up, Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan are crumbling around them. In The Kite Runner we see a friendship that has the power to reach across decades, continents and oceans to call in debts born in the streets of Kabul. Haunted for years by unvoiced betrayals, Amir and Hassan share a bond that neither can escape.

Hosseini has a gift for creating flawed yet sympathetic characters. I sympathized early with both boys. Amir walks in dread of his father's unspoken disappointment and impatience with him. Will his father ever forgive him for causing his mother's death at the moment he entered the world? Hassan spaniels after Amir, serves him in a reverie of devotion undaunted by Amir's occasional cruel tricks and teasing. Amir and other...
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