The time has come for something a little more sombre. Today, I bring to you my first book Pick: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
My reading had lulled a little in the past few months. Naturally, with the time before summer being the exam season, your free time dries up like snails in salt. While I was reading World War Z by Max Brooks in the little time I had (a “mockumentary” style book about the rise and fall of a zombie apocalypse through the accounts of various people) my reading was fractured, slow, and hindered.
Now that I have escaped the age of darkness and despair (exam-time), I am confronted with a substantial amount of summer reading. With a selection of books to choice from, picked out The Kite Runner from the pile.
While I did some reading within school, the majority was enjoyed on a hammock facing the Caribbean Sea. A good way to start off the summer holiday! Anyway, with my shoulders on fire from the lack of sun-cream the day before, I travelled into Afghanistan with The Kite Runner.
The drama tells the story of Amir, the son of a wealthy family who dreams of becoming a storyteller and writer. His story surrounds his servant and childhood friend, Hassan, the boy with “a China doll face, green eyes, and a harelip”, as well as Afghanistan’s rocky history from the 70s to 2005, and the events of a kite-fighting contest during one life-altering winter’s day.
Hosseini gives us a very clear image of Afghanistan. When we hear the country’s name, we think of the Taliban and the War on Terror; of poverty and a war-stricken country. Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-American which gives him the advantage of knowing what the first-world thinks of Afghanistan and what it is like to actually grow up there.
Hosseini presents Afghanistan in three different times. First there is the hard truth on what is happening in Afghanistan. After 26 years away in America, Amir returns to the horrors of modern Afghanistan, with such tragedies as public executions, extreme poverty and child prostitution.
From this hard imagery Amir reflects on a nostalgic Afghanistan in 1975. We see a cultured Afghanistan, where family is held in high regards, the community is strong through friendships spanning generations, and events such as the annual kite-running competition keep the community tight. This image ends when Amir has to flee a now untrustworthy country during the Russian invasion.
The author manages to educate the reader on an Afghan’s customs and ideals. Personally, I looked at this book not only as a heart-breaking story, but also as an intriguing insight into life in Afghanistan. Themes, such as the traditions of marriage, the importance of ancestors and the hierarchy in society give you a view into a world you were unaware of before.
The best way to describe Afghanistan is in this line:
"Take two Afghans who've never met, put them in a room for ten minutes, and they'll figure out how they're related."
Sounds like Hereford. Amir always finds the people that he meets are related to him in some way. Usually, this way from his father: Baba.
Baba has nothing in common with our protagonist. He is a strong, driven man whose burly appearance matches his incredible feats of building an orphanage and allegedly wrestling with a bear. While stubborn, he sticks to his guns and ideals.
Amir, however, is not our typical hero. He is shown to contrasts with his father as being more of a coward than someone to root for. He is quietly spoken and lives in his father’s shadow, avoiding conflict when presented to him. He runs away from his past, guilt, and questionably immoral action. However, I find this character is written perfectly, as he has room to develop as a flawed character, leading to a climactic scene where he stands up and redeems himself. I’ll keep away from the spoilers.
Hassan is quite a linear character. While a believable character as Amir’s illiterate best friend, I don’t feel many layers were put onto the character. On the other hand, did he need them? Khaled weaves a loyal friend who sacrifices himself a few times for Amir and his own family. His complexity is subtly hidden, and Amir could never read what was underneath the boy’s face.
The amount of detail Hosseini uses is kept to a minimum, but it can be envisioned perfectly. When Kabul is covered in the stench of diesel and lined with bullet-ridden buildings, the reader can reminisce with Amir, thinking back to the smell of ‘lamb kabob’ and the vivacious life that once was.
The plot has a massive scope. Many themes including redemption, guilt, relationships, betrayal, coming-of-age, cruelty, change and mortality are covered throughout. Hosseini captures the vividness of each scene, colourfully creating beautiful imagery. We feel nostalgia with Amir as he reminisces of 70s Afghanistan. He romanticizes the streets of Kabul, describing the bright vendors on each street and smells of rich foods as kites of brilliant dyes streak across the grey sky, bright against snow that covers the city beneath them.
In conclusion, The Kite Runner is a novel that gives us an insight of Afghanistan, as well as giving us a heart-wrenching story in a beautiful narration of loyalty, betrayal and finally redemption. Amir’s life, from its ups and downs is vibrantly shown, all events encompassing the acts committed during a kite-flying competition, one winter’s day. The moral shows us that the actions of one single moment can affect everyone around you and echo through a lifetime.
Thanks all for reading! While I think this could be better, it is probably the Pick I’m most proud of at this time. I hope you all enjoyed it.
‘Til next time!