The Kite Runner

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“I sat on a bench near a willow tree and watched a pair of kites soaring in the sky. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought, ‘There is a way to be good again.’”

Now in paperback, one of the year’s international literary sensations — a shattering story of betrayal and redemption set in war-torn Afghanistan.

Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny ...

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Overview

“I sat on a bench near a willow tree and watched a pair of kites soaring in the sky. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought, ‘There is a way to be good again.’”

Now in paperback, one of the year’s international literary sensations — a shattering story of betrayal and redemption set in war-torn Afghanistan.

Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan’s decent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan’s father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.

This fragile idyll is broken by the mounting ethnic, religious, and political tensions that begin to tear Afghanistan apart. An unspeakable assault on Hassan by a gang of local boys tears the friends apart; Amir has witnessed his friend’s torment, but is too afraid to intercede. Plunged into self-loathing, Amir conspires to have Hassan and his father turned out of the household.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to San Francisco, leaving Hassan and his father to a pitiless fate. Only years later will Amir have an opportunity to redeem himself by returning to Afghanistan to begin to repay the debt long owed to the man who should have been his brother.

Compelling, heartrending, and etched with details of a history never before told in fiction, The Kite Runner is a story of the ways in which we’re damned by our moral failures, and of the extravagant cost of redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975." So begins The Kite Runner, a poignant tale of two motherless boys growing up in Kabul, a city teetering on the brink of destruction at the dawn of the Soviet invasion.

Despite their class differences, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman, and Hassan, his devoted sidekick and the son of Amir's household servant, play together, cause mischief together, and compete in the annual kite-fighting tournament -- Amir flying the kite, and Hassan running down the kites they fell. But one day, Amir betrays Hassan, and his betrayal grows increasingly devastating as their tale continues. Amir will spend much of his life coming to terms with his initial and subsequent acts of cowardice, and finally seek to make reparations.

Hosseini's depiction of the cruelty children suffer at the hands of their "friends" will break your heart. And his descriptions of Afghanistan both before and after the war will haunt readers long after they've read the last page. The Kite Runner is a stunning reminder that the dark hearts of adults are made, step-by-step, by the hatred they learn as children, and that all it takes for evil to triumph is for a good man to stand back and do nothing. (Summer 2003 Selection)

Entertainment Weekly
A moving portrait of modern Afghanistan.
The New York Times Book Review
This powerful first novel...tells the story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, Khaled Hosseini's privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country's revolution and its invasion by Russian forces. But political events, even as dramatic as the ones that are presented in The Kite Runner, are only a part of this story. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence—forces that continue to threaten them even today.
The Washington Post Book World
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.
Children's Literature - Kristin Sutton
As Amir and Hassan deal with the trials of normal childhood in Afghanistan, they must also deal with class discrepancies and an impending war. As their culture threatens, and eventually succeeds, in tearing them apart, Amir finds his life irreversibly changed by the acts of cruel children who consistently bully Hassan because of his class. This historically educational novel goes on to tell of Amir and his father's escape from Afghanistan and the life they create in America. But even after years in America, during which he loses his father and finds a wife, Amir returns to Afghanistan where he learns of his father's ancient secret. Stunned to learn that his recently deceased childhood friend, whom he has not seen in years, was in fact his half brother, Amir embarks on an adventure to rescue Hassan's son from the Afghani government. This novel portrays friendship at its strongest, spanning years and distance to bring Amir and Hassan back together in spirit if nothing else. Reviewer: Kristin Sutton
The Washington Post
Hosseini clearly loves his country as much as he hates what has become of it. — Pamela Constable
Albuquerque Journal
Hosseini's book is more than a typical coming-of-age story. Rather it is about personal salvation, betrayal, and redemption.
People
...this extraordinary first novel locates the personal struggles of everyday people in the terrible sweep of history.
The New York Times
In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence -- forces that continue to threaten them even today. — Edward Hower
San Jose Mercury News
...ranks among the best-written and most provocative stories of the year...enlightening and fascinating...intimate and poignant. (June 29, 2003)
Publishers Weekly
Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s. Amir, the son of a well-to-do Kabul merchant, is the first-person narrator, who marries, moves to California and becomes a successful novelist. But he remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend, a Hazara boy named Hassan, who receives a brutal beating from some local bullies. After establishing himself in America, Amir learns that the Taliban have murdered Hassan and his wife, raising questions about the fate of his son, Sohrab. Spurred on by childhood guilt, Amir makes the difficult journey to Kabul, only to learn the boy has been enslaved by a former childhood bully who has become a prominent Taliban official. The price Amir must pay to recover the boy is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the true nature of his relationship to Hassan. 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. (June 2) Forecast: It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality. Though Afghanistan is now on the media back burner, its fate is still of major interest and may become even more so as the U.S.'s nation-building efforts are scrutinized. 10-city author tour; foreign rights sold in Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This painful, moving, remarkable debut novel depicts the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of a deeply flawed protagonist. Growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan, Amir feels unloved by his widowed father, who seems to care more for Hassan, the son of their Hazara servant, Ali. Amir and Hassan are close but not quite friends. On what should have been the best day of his young life, when he wins a kite-flying contest and finally some respect from his father, Amir betrays Hassan and becomes haunted by guilt. Amir comes to California when the Soviets invade his country but returns years later to rescue Hassan's orphaned son from the Taliban and redeem himself. Hosseini, a physician in the San Francisco area, has a wonderful gift for developing distinctive characters and creating a strong sense of place. While far from polished, his narration offers a profound sincerity that might have been missing with a professional reader. A sad and violent yet beautiful and unforgettable story; highly recommended for all collections, especially those with interests in the American immigrant experience.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This beautifully written first novel presents a glimpse of life in Afghanistan before the Russian invasion and introduces richly drawn, memorable characters. Quiet, intellectual Amir craves the attention of his father, a wealthy Kabul businessman. Kind and self-confident Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant. The motherless boys play together daily, and when Amir wins the annual kite contest, Hassan offers to track down the opponent's runaway kite as a prize. When he finds it, the neighborhood bullies trap and rape him, as Amir stands by too terrified to help. Their lives and their friendship are forever changed, and the memory of his cowardice haunts Amir as he grows into manhood. Hassan and his father return to the village of their ancestors, and later Amir and his father flee to Los Angeles to avoid political persecution. Amir attends college, marries, and fulfills his dream of becoming a writer. When Amir receives word of his former friend's death under the Taliban, he returns to Kabul to learn the fate of Hassan's son. This gripping story of personal redemption will capture readers' interest.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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. Moving back and forth between Afghanistan and California, and spanning almost 40 years, the story begins in Afghanistan in the tranquil 1960s. Our protagonist Amir is a child in Kabul. The most important people in his life are Baba and Hassan. Father Baba is a wealthy Pashtun merchant, a larger-than-life figure, fretting over his bookish weakling of a son (the mother died giving birth); Hassan is his sweet-natured playmate, son of their servant Ali and a Hazara. Pashtuns have always dominated and ridiculed Hazaras, so Amir can’t help teasing Hassan, even though the Hazara staunchly defends him against neighborhood bullies like the "sociopath" Assef. The day, in 1975, when 12-year-old Amir wins the annual kite-fighting tournament is the best and worst of his young life. He bonds with Baba at last but deserts Hassan when the latter is raped by Assef. And it gets worse. With the still-loyal Hassan a constant reminder of his guilt, Amir makes life impossible for him and Ali, ultimately forcing them to leave town. Fast forward to the Russian occupation, flight to America, life in the Afghan exile community in the Bay Area. Amir becomes a writer and marries a beautiful Afghan; Baba dies of cancer. Then, in 2001, the past comes roaring back. Rahim, Baba’s old business partner who knows all about Amir’s transgressions, calls from Pakistan. Hassan has been executed by the Taliban; his son, Sohrab, must be rescued. Will Amir wipe the slate clean? So he returns to the hell of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and reclaims Sohrab from aTaliban leader (none other than Assef) after a terrifying showdown. Amir brings the traumatized child back to California and a bittersweet ending. Rather than settle for a coming-of-age or travails-of-immigrants story, Hosseini has folded them both into this searing spectacle of hard-won personal salvation. All this, and a rich slice of Afghan culture too: irresistible. Author tour. Agent: Elaine Koster
Boston Globe
Soaring Debut.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Exquisite. A wonderfully conjured story that offers a glimpse into an Afghanistan most Americans have never seen, and depicts a side of humanity rarely revealed.
The Denver Post
A beautiful novel. Ranks among the best-written and most provocative stories of the year so far. Hosseini is an exhilaratingly original writer with a gift for irony and a gentle, perspective heart.
From the Publisher
"A wonderful work... This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years. All the great themes of literature and of life are the fabric of this extraordinary novel: love, honor, guilt, fear redemption...It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read after seemed bland." — Isabel Allende
 
"Stunning . . . an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history. . . It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality." — Publisher's Weekly

“In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence — forces that continue to threaten them even today.” — New York Times

“A haunting morality tale.” — USA Today

“His passionate story of betrayal and redemption is framed by Afghanistan’s tragic recent past . . . Rather than settle for a coming-of-age or travails-of-immigrants story, Hosseini has folded them both into this searing spectacle of hard-won personal salvation. All this, and a rich slice of Afghan culture too: irresistible." — Kirkus Reviews

“Like Gone with the Wind, this extraordinary first novel locates the personal struggles of everyday people in the terrible sweep of history.” — People

“To many Western readers, [Afghanistan’s] can be an exhausting and bewildering history. But Hosseini extrudes it into an intimate account of family and friendship, betrayal and salvation that requires no atlas or translation to engage and enlighten us.” — Washington Post

“Hosseini does tenderness and terror, California dream and Kabul nightmare with equal aplomb. . .a ripping yarn and ethical parable.” — Globe and Mail

"A beautiful novel . . . a song in a new key. Hosseini is an exhilaratingly original writer with a gift for irony and a gentle, perceptive heart . . . one of the most lyrical, moving and unexpected novels of the year." — Denver Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594480003
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/23/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, the son of a diplomat whose family received political asylum in the United States in 1980. He lives in northern California, where he is a physician. The Kite Runner is his first novel.

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    1. Hometown:
      Sunnyvale, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 4, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kabul, Afghanistan
    1. Education:
      B.S. in biology, Santa Clara University, 1988; M.D., UC San Diego School of Medicine, 1993
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

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, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high above the trees on the west end of the park, over the windmills, floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco, the city I now call home. And suddenly Hassan's voice whispered in my head: For you, a thousand times over. Hassan the harelipped kite runner.

I sat on a park bench near a willow tree. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought. There is a way to be good again. I looked up at those twin kites. I thought about Hassan. Thought about Baba. Ali. Kabul. I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today.

TWO

When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of my father's house and annoy our neighbors by reflecting sunlight into their homes with a shard of mirror. We would sit across from each other on a pair of high branches, our naked feet dangling, our trouser pockets filled with dried mulberries and walnuts. We took turns with the mirror as we ate mulberries, pelted each other with them, giggling, laughing. I can still see Hassan up on that tree, sunlight flickering through the leaves on his almost perfectly round face, a face like a Chinese doll chiseled from hardwood: his flat, broad nose and slanting, narrow eyes like bamboo leaves, eyes that looked, depending on the light, gold, green, even sapphire. I can still see his tiny low-set ears and that pointed stub of a chin, a meaty appendage that looked like it was added as a mere afterthought. And the cleft lip, just left of midline, where the Chinese doll maker's instrument may have slipped, or perhaps he had simply grown tired and careless.

Sometimes, up in those trees, I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I asked, really asked, he wouldn't deny me. Hassan never denied me anything. And he was deadly with his slingshot. Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get. He would wag his finger and wave us down from the tree. He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him, that the devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims during prayer. "And he laughs while he does it," he always added, scowling at his son.

"Yes, Father," Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my idea.

The poplar trees lined the redbrick driveway, which led to a pair of wrought-iron gates. They in turn opened into an extension of the driveway into my father's estate. The house sat on the left side of the brick path, the backyard at the end of it.

Everyone agreed that my father, my Baba, had built the most beautiful house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, a new and affluent neighborhood in the northern part of Kabul. Some thought it was the prettiest house in all of Kabul. A broad entryway flanked by rosebushes led to the sprawling house of marble floors and wide windows. Intricate mosaic tiles, handpicked by Baba in Isfahan, covered the floors of the four bathrooms. Gold-stitched tapestries, which Baba had bought in Calcutta, lined the walls; a crystal chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling.

Upstairs was my bedroom, Baba's room, and his study, also known as "the smoking room," which perpetually smelled of tobacco and cinnamon. Baba and his friends reclined on black leather chairs there after Ali had served dinner. They stuffed their pipes-except Baba always called it "fattening the pipe"-and discussed their favorite three topics: politics, business, soccer. Sometimes I asked Baba if I could sit with them, but Baba would stand in the doorway. "Go on, now," he'd say. "This is grown-ups' time. Why don't you go read one of those books of yours?" He'd close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups' time with him. I'd sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter.

The living room downstairs had a curved wall with custom-built cabinets. Inside sat framed family pictures: an old, grainy photo of my grandfather and King Nadir Shah taken in 1931, two years before the king's assassination; they are standing over a dead deer, dressed in knee-high boots, rifles slung over their shoulders. There was a picture of my parents' wedding night, Baba dashing in his black suit and my mother a smiling young princess in white. Here was Baba and his best friend and business partner, Rahim Khan, standing outside our house, neither one smiling-I am a baby in that photograph and Baba is holding me, looking tired and grim. I'm in his arms, but it's Rahim Khan's pinky my fingers are curled around.

The curved wall led into the dining room, at the center of which was a mahogany table that could easily sit thirty guests-and, given my father's taste for extravagant parties, it did just that almost every week. On the other end of the dining room was a tall marble fireplace, always lit by the orange glow of a fire in the wintertime.

A large sliding glass door opened into a semicircular terrace that overlooked two acres of backyard and rows of cherry trees. Baba and Ali had planted a small vegetable garden along the eastern wall: tomatoes, mint, peppers, and a row of corn that never really took. Hassan and I used to call it "the Wall of Ailing Corn."

On the south end of the garden, in the shadows of a loquat tree, was the servants' home, a modest little mud hut where Hassan lived with his father.

It was there, in that little shack, that Hassan was born in the winter of 1964, just one year after my mother died giving birth to me.

In the eighteen years that I lived in that house, I stepped into Hassan and Ali's quarters only a handful of times. When the sun dropped low behind the hills and we were done playing for the day, Hassan and I parted ways. I went past the rosebushes to Baba's mansion, Hassan to the mud shack where he had been born, where he'd lived his entire life. I remember it was spare, clean, dimly lit by a pair of kerosene lamps. There were two mattresses on opposite sides of the room, a worn Herati rug with frayed edges in between, a three-legged stool, and a wooden table in the corner where Hassan did his drawings. The walls stood bare, save for a single tapestry with sewn-in beads forming the words Allah-u-akbar. Baba had bought it for Ali on one of his trips to Mashad.

It was in that small shack that Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, gave birth to him one cold winter day in 1964. While my mother hemorrhaged to death during childbirth, Hassan lost his less than a week after he was born. Lost her to a fate most Afghans considered far worse than death: She ran off with a clan of traveling singers and dancers.

Hassan never talked about his mother, as if she'd never existed. I always wondered if he dreamed about her, about what she looked like, where she was. I wondered if he longed to meet her. Did he ache for her, the way I ached for the mother I had never met? One day, we were walking from my father's house to Cinema Zainab for a new Iranian movie, taking the shortcut through the military barracks near Istiqlal Middle School-Baba had forbidden us to take that shortcut, but he was in Pakistan with Rahim Khan at the time. We hopped the fence that surrounded the barracks, skipped over a little creek, and broke into the open dirt field where old, abandoned tanks collected dust. A group of soldiers huddled in the shade of one of those tanks, smoking cigarettes and playing cards. One of them saw us, elbowed the guy next to him, and called Hassan.

"Hey, you!" he said. "I know you."

We had never seen him before. He was a squatty man with a shaved head and black stubble on his face. The way he grinned at us, leered, scared me. "Just keep walking," I muttered to Hassan.

"You! The Hazara! Look at me when I'm talking to you!" the soldier barked. He handed his cigarette to the guy next to him, made a circle with the thumb and index finger of one hand. Poked the middle finger of his other hand through the circle. Poked it in and out. In and out. "I knew your mother, did you know that? I knew her real good. I took her from behind by that creek over there."

The soldiers laughed. One of them made a squealing sound. I told Hassan to keep walking, keep walking.

"What a tight little sugary cunt she had!" the soldier was saying, shaking hands with the others, grinning. Later, in the dark, after the movie had started, I heard Hassan next to me, croaking. Tears were sliding down his cheeks. I reached across my seat, slung my arm around him, pulled him close. He rested his head on my shoulder. "He took you for someone else," I whispered. "He took you for someone else."

I'm told no one was really surprised when Sanaubar eloped. People had raised their eyebrows when Ali, a man who had memorized the Koran, married Sanaubar, a woman nineteen years younger, a beautiful but notoriously unscrupulous woman who lived up to her dishonorable reputation. Like Ali, she was a Shi'a Muslim and an ethnic Hazara. She was also his first cousin and therefore a natural choice for a spouse. But beyond those similarities, Ali and Sanaubar had little in common, least of all their respective appearances. While Sanaubar's brilliant green eyes and impish face had, rumor has it, tempted countless men into sin, Ali had a congenital paralysis of his lower facial muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grim-faced. It was an odd thing to see the stone-faced Ali happy, or sad, because only his slanted brown eyes glinted with a smile or welled with sorrow. People say that eyes are windows to the soul. Never was that more true than with Ali, who could only reveal himself through his eyes.

I have heard that Sanaubar's suggestive stride and oscillating hips sent men to reveries of infidelity. But polio had left Ali with a twisted, atrophied right leg that was sallow skin over bone with little in between except a paper-thin layer of muscle. I remember one day, when I was eight, Ali was taking me to the bazaar to buy some naan. I was walking behind him, humming, trying to imitate his walk. I watched him swing his scraggy leg in a sweeping arc, watched his whole body tilt impossibly to the right every time he planted that foot. It seemed a minor miracle he didn't tip over with each step. When I tried it, I almost fell into the gutter. That got me giggling. Ali turned around, caught me aping him. He didn't say anything. Not then, not ever. He just kept walking.

Ali's face and his walk frightened some of the younger children in the neighborhood. But the real trouble was with the older kids. They chased him on the street, and mocked him when he hobbled by. Some had taken to calling him Babalu, or Boogeyman. "Hey, Babalu, who did you eat today?" they barked to a chorus of laughter. "Who did you eat, you flat-nosed Babalu?"

They called him "flat-nosed" because of Ali and Hassan's characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants, and that they looked a little like Chinese people. School textbooks barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing. Then one day, I was in Baba's study, looking through his stuff, when I found one of my mother's old history books. It was written by an Iranian named Khorami. I blew the dust off it, sneaked it into bed with me that night, and was stunned to find an entire chapter on Hazara history. An entire chapter dedicated to Hassan's people! In it, I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtuns had "quelled them with unspeakable violence." The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women. The book said part of the reason Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi'a. The book said a lot of things I didn't know, things my teachers hadn't mentioned. Things Baba hadn't mentioned either. It also said some things I did know, like that people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys. I had heard some of the kids in the neighborhood yell those names to Hassan.

The following week, after class, I showed the book to my teacher and pointed to the chapter on the Hazaras. He skimmed through a couple of pages, snickered, handed the book back. "That's the one thing Shi'a people do well," he said, picking up his papers, "passing themselves as martyrs." He wrinkled his nose when he said the word Shi'a, like it was some kind of disease.

But despite sharing ethnic heritage and family blood, Sanaubar joined the neighborhood kids in taunting Ali. I have heard that she made no secret of her disdain for his appearance.

"This is a husband?" she would sneer. "I have seen old donkeys better suited to be a husband."

In the end, most people suspected the marriage had been an arrangement of sorts between Ali and his uncle, Sanaubar's father. They said Ali had married his cousin to help restore some honor to his uncle's blemished name, even though Ali, who had been orphaned at the age of five, had no worldly possessions or inheritance to speak of.

Ali never retaliated against any of his tormentors, I suppose partly because he could never catch them with that twisted leg dragging behind him. But mostly because Ali was immune to the insults of his assailants; he had found his joy, his antidote, the moment Sanaubar had given birth to Hassan. It had been a simple enough affair. No obstetricians, no anesthesiologists, no fancy monitoring devices. Just Sanaubar lying on a stained, naked mattress with Ali and a midwife helping her. She hadn't needed much help at all, because, even in birth, Hassan was true to his nature: He was incapable of hurting anyone. A few grunts, a couple of pushes, and out came Hassan. Out he came smiling.

As confided to a neighbor's servant by the garrulous midwife, who had then in turn told anyone who would listen, Sanaubar had taken one glance at the baby in Ali's arms, seen the cleft lip, and barked a bitter laughter.

"There," she had said. "Now you have your own idiot child to do all your smiling for you!" She had refused to even hold Hassan, and just five days later, she was gone.

Baba hired the same nursing woman who had fed me to nurse Hassan. Ali told us she was a blue-eyed Hazara woman from Bamiyan, the city of the giant Buddha statues. "What a sweet singing voice she had," he used to say to us.

What did she sing, Hassan and I always asked, though we already knew-Ali had told us countless times. We just wanted to hear Ali sing.

He'd clear his throat and begin:

On a high mountain I stood, And cried the name of Ali, Lion of God. O Ali, Lion of God, King of Men, Bring joy to our sorrowful hearts.

Then he would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break.

Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.

Mine was Baba.

His was Amir. My name.

Looking back on it now, I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975-and all that followed-was already laid in those first words.

--from The Kite Runner: A Novel by Khaled Hosseini, Copyright © 2003 Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Interviews & Essays

A CONVERSATION WITH KHALED HOSSEINI

Where did the idea for this story come from?
That's not an easy question to answer because it developed over time. During the past couple of years I had been mulling over the notion of writing a story set in Afghanistan but I couldn't decide on the right story or the right time period. At first I considered writing about the Taliban but I felt that particular story had already been told -- it's an issue that has been well covered and by people far more qualified than myself. I knew if I was going to tell an Afghan story I'd have to tell one that had something new to offer. So I decided the story would have to take place, at least partially, in an Afghanistan that seemingly no one remembered anymore: the pre-Soviet War Afghanistan.

Why do you say it's a time no one seems to remember any more?
For most people in west Afghanistan had become synonymous with the war against the Soviets, the Taliban and repression. I wanted to remind people that it wasn't always like that. I wanted to remind them that there was an Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion of 1979, and that Afghanistan had enjoyed decades of peace without anyone firing so much as a rocket. The old adage in writing is to write what you know. Having lived through that time period in Kabul -- the final years of the monarchy, the birth of the Republic, and the first years of Daoud Khan's leadership -- I felt comfortable writing about it.

What was the other incident that inspired your novel?
It involved a kid named Moussa, who was also an ethnic Hazara. Moussa lived with his mother across the street from us in a partially constructed home. Theneighborhood where we lived, and that I used in the book, was called Wazir Akbar Khan. It was a district in northern Kabul, a fairly affluent and new neighborhood that was still being developed. And sometimes people hired folks to keep watch over their homes as they were being built. So this kid and his mother were living across the street from us. From time to time we'd play soccer with him or fly kites. One day, I was maybe ten years old, my brother and I were sitting on our garden wall when we noticed Moussa across the street in the yard of his place. We all had these little mirrors and we were playing around with them -- using them to shine the reflected sun in each other's eyes from one side of the street to the other. The guy who was a cook for my family at the time walked out, saw us playing, and said, ‘Oh, is that Moussa over there?' I said, ‘Yes.' He nodded and said, kind of casually -- and forgive me for saying this -- ‘You know I've been fucking him for the last month.' My brother and I didn't know what that meant. We asked around and eventually found out. We never told anybody. I guess we were scared of the cook. And even back then I think we realized if we had told it was quite possible no one would have cared. The character that ended up being Hassan was a fusion of these two people: Hussein Khan and Moussa. Once he came to life, so did his alter ego, Amir, who then turned out to be the protagonist and the voice of the novel -- the person to whom the story's moral dilemmas present themselves.

How much of The Kite Runner is autobiographical?
Inevitably there will be bits and pieces of yourself, either consciously or subconsciously, that end up in your protagonist. Fortunately there aren't that many autobiographical things in the book. I don't have that much in common with Amir. I say ‘fortunately' because for a good portion of the story he's not exactly the most savory of characters. But there certainly are things about him that come from my own life. Perhaps the most prominent is that, like Amir, I grew up admiring my father greatly and had a very intense desire to please him. Thankfully it was not with quite the same fervor that Amir had. I think his brand of admiration borders on the pathological. Fatherhood in Afghanistan is a greatly revered institution. When people identify someone they say, ‘He's the son of so-and-so...' and they always mention the father. Tribal identity also comes from the father. Even if your mother is a Pashtun you can't inherit Pashtun status unless your father is one as well. So like a lot of Afghan kids I grew up revering my dad [to a certain extent]. Fortunately for me he reciprocated the affection and to this day we maintain a warm and wonderful relationship. And there are a couple of other things that might be worth mentioning. Amir and I also developed a love for reading and writing at an early age. And just like Amir, when I was a kid I used to love going to the theater to see Hindi and American films. They decided to move to America -- I think in large part because of the opportunities they felt this country would offer for their children.

You're planning a return trip to Afghanistan with your brother-in-law in March or April of this year. Where do you plan to go?
The places I really want to go back and see are the places where I have personal memories. I'm dying to see my father's old house in Wazir Akbar Khan where I grew up and the hill north of the house with its abandoned graveyard where my brother and I used to play. I want to see the various bazaars in Kabul where we used to hang out and my old school. I'd also like to see the foreign ministry where my father used to work. I remember him taking us there when we were kids and how incredibly huge it looked to me then. I'd love to revisit the mosques my dad would sometimes take us to on Fridays and the kababi house in Shar-e-nau (the New City), which I recently learned is still standing and which is still owned and operated by the same guy who owned it when I was a kid. Then there are some places of general interest I'd like to visit: Bala Hissar in Southeast Kabul, the old city fortress and walls, a site of infighting between mujaheddin factions; Baghi Babur, the garden of the tomb of the 16th-century Mogul emperor Babu; Bagh-I-Bala, the home of a 19th-century king, now a posh restaurant, located high on a hill with a view of the city; and Darulaman, the old royal palace -- once a beautiful building surrounding by trees and lawns. We used to go there for family picnics when I was a kid. I understand it has been pretty badly damaged.

Some news organizations have expressed interest in sending a reporter or camera crew with you to Afghanistan when you return. But there has already been plenty of reporting from Afghanistan. Why should they be interested in accompanying you there?
Much of the reporting that we've seen about Afghanistan, and the stories we've heard, has been through the eyes of westerners. I'd be able to bring present day Afghanistan back with me, with my own take, and with the eyes of someone who has had the benefit of having seen the country in better days and who would be able to provide some perspective.

This will be the first time you're returning to Afghanistan in 27 years. What do you hope to accomplish?
Beyond wanting to go for purely nostalgic reasons I want to go back and talk to the people on the street. I want to get a sense of what life is like now in Kabul and a sense of where people think their country is headed. I want to see if I can put a finger on the emotional pulse of the city. I also hope to come back with a sense of optimism. I want to see the signs of reconstruction -- concrete evidence that there may be hope for Afghanistan after all because for so long the only thing we ever heard from there were reports of killings, genocide, repression, natural disasters, poverty and hunger.

Do you have any reservations or fears about returning to Afghanistan and to Kabul?
My main concern is one of safety. I have a two-year-old son and a ten-day-old daughter. Although I understand Kabul is pretty well guarded that can't be said about areas off the beaten path. And I'm dreading a little bit seeing some of the destruction and ruin. I imagine going back will be like going back and seeing an old friend you haven't seen in a long time and finding him destitute, sick, poor and homeless. I do fear that a bit. Initially I think it will be emotionally difficult. Everyone who goes back says the first couple of days leave you in a state of shock. Dust covers the entire city; the smell of diesel fumes is pervasive no matter where you go; there are ruins and debris everywhere you look; and the trees are all destroyed (either cut down for fuel or by the Soviets years earlier to thwart snipers who used them for cover). I think it will take some getting used to but I also think once the initial shock wears off I'll be fine.

Are you going knowing full well what to expect or are you not sure what you'll find?
I'm not sure what I'm going to find. Depending on who you listen to the situation is either really optimistic or totally hopeless. A good friend of mine named Tamim Ansary, an Afghan writer from San Francisco who wrote that very famous e-mail about 9/11 that ended up circulating around the world, went back to Afghanistan last June. When he returned to the U.S. he brought back with him a real sense of hope. He said the people he saw in the street, and the people he spoke with, were very optimistic about their future and where the country was headed and were ready to put behind them all the atrocities of the Taliban and the war.

Tamim said it was very safe and he had no trouble at all getting around Kabul. On the other hand, another gentleman I recently spoke with, who was back in Afghanistan a couple of months ago, said the situation was hopeless; that no progress is being made; that there's rampant corruption; and that people's outlook is very bleak. The bottom line is that I don't know what I'm going to find. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the situation for myself and making my own judgments.

One of the most pervasive images of Afghanistan in your novel is the depth to which its culture is all about family. How much family do you still have there?
Virtually everybody I know has been out of the country for a long time. I have no immediate family, or even extended family, left in Kabul but there are people I know who never left and there are people who have now moved back. In fact my brother-in-law's father is there. I also have a first cousin who still lives in Herat. I hope I'll be able to get there at some point during the trip and see her. We exchanged letters just before 9/11 but then we lost contact.

What are your thoughts on what's happened in the last couple of years in Afghanistan?
During the Taliban era you couldn't read about Afghanistan without reading about hunger, war, landmines, refugees, and so on. The Taliban did nothing to alleviate those problems. What they did do was add a sense of the absurd on a grand scale. When they ordered the Buddha statues destroyed and prohibited art and sports and all the things that people take enjoyment in, we were all in a state of disbelief. We shook our heads and wondered how it had come to this. Then September 11th happened and I dreaded what was sure to come next. With the impending bombing campaign I truly feared for the people. On the other hand one friend of mine, who had come back to the U.S. from Afghanistan after living there during the Taliban era, said there was a cancer there and you had to give it chemotherapy. It's not pleasant but maybe that's what it takes. I don't know if he was right or wrong but I do know there's relative peace in Afghanistan now and a cautious sense of optimism for the first time in a long long time. I think Afghanistan is currently enjoying a window of opportunity. My fear is that with the passing of time, and with public attention shifting to other issues -- the impending war with Iraq, the struggling economy -- Afghanistan might once again be forgotten by America. And when I say that I echo the sentiment of a lot of Afghans, especially those who still live there. If this book accomplishes anything, on a broader level, I hope it helps to keep Afghanistan alive in the collective mind of the public. If it accomplishes that I feel it will have been a very worthwhile thing to do.

How do people in Afghanistan feel about those who fled the country in the late 1970s or early '80s. What sort of reaction do you expect when you return?
I think there could be several different reactions depending on who we're talking about and who we're asking. When I asked Tamim the same question he said he felt people weren't bitter at all; that they were just happy to have people back to help with the reconstruction process. And certainly President Karzai has made it abundantly clear that he wants Afghan intellectuals and professionals to come back and help the country rebuild.

Simultaneously, I have heard reports of embitterment towards those Afghans who fled and who are now returning. And I can see how there could be some resentment. Now that investors' money is flowing it seems to them as if people are suddenly appearing out of the woodwork. In my heart I hope I get the former reaction although if it were the latter I would certainly understand.

What are your views on some of the women's issues in Afghanistan and the way women are treated there?
The way women were treated in Afghanistan during the Taliban era was unacceptable. But things were very different when I was growing up. Back then women were very active in contributing to society, at least in urban areas. My mother, for example, was a teacher at a girl's high school. The Taliban did Afghanistan a great, great disservice by shutting women out of the workplace. So the damage they inflicted is going to take years to repair: rebuilding the schools, getting girls to pick up books again, re-acclimating women into the workplace, and so forth. I think it's very tragic. In the novel I didn't touch much on the subject because I felt it was something that had been pretty well covered. Perhaps the most well known aspect of the Taliban regime was its mistreatment of women. It's still a work very much in progress for women, but my understanding is that in the post-Taliban era things are much better. Girls are going back to school and learning again. Women are returning to the workplace. They wear the Burqa if they want to but they don't have to. Once again they can move about without the presence of a male adult companion, wear makeup, listen to music and so on. So my understanding, based on what I've read and heard, is that the situation is much better, although there is still room for improvement, especially in more rural areas. Nevertheless, that's one of the things that intrigues me and that I want to see for myself.

What is the greatest misconception Americans have about Afghanistan?
I am not sure there are many now. In the wake of 9/11, the public was extensively exposed to and educated about Afghanistan. But if there was one, it was that we are all like the Taliban and that women never had a say in Afghan society. In fact purdah, the Muslim practice of keeping women hidden from men outside their own family -- either via a curtain, veil, or the like -- was first made optional in 1959. It was a time when women began to enroll in the University and to enter the workforce and the government. In the mid-1970s a new constitution was presented that confirmed women's rights. Most people don't know that.

They think Afghanistan was more like Saudi Arabia, a place where women had been repressed for centuries and where those same practices were continuing. I was in an Internet chat room once in which a woman logged in and started going off about how Afghans treat their women. I told her not all Afghans are that way and what she was seeing was the practices of the then-current regime -- the Taliban. That took her by surprise.

Many aid workers and diplomats have been unwilling to spend time in cities other than Kabul because of fears of terrorism, assault, banditry and rape. This has greatly slowed reconstruction projects in the countryside. What will it take to change the situation there?
It's difficult to say because Afghanistan has to develop a national army and that's going to take time. But there's a transitional period between now and then where security will remain a vital issue. Unfortunately it seems like you can't have reconstruction without security and you can't have security without reconstruction. The big debate right now is whether ISAF forces should be allowed to expand to cover larger regions of the country and bridge the security gap until a functional national army can be properly trained, groomed and equipped. As to be expected you can find plenty of opinions on both sides of the issue. There are conservative Afghans who feel that would be a step toward the country's becoming a pawn for western colonialism and there are others who feel it's a necessary step for reconstruction.

Tell me a bit about your parents' background.
My dad came from a small village just a few kilometers from Herat, which is a large town in western Afghanistan. He was an only child raised by his mother (his father died when he was two years old). My mom was brought up in Herat itself. We're talking about the 1940s and ‘50s here so there was very little infrastructure where they lived -- no electricity, no running water and so on. Eventually they moved to Kabul. If I were to relate that event to a similar experience here I'd have to say it would be like moving from a small town in rural Alabama to New York City. The streets of Kabul were paved. People drove cars. Everyone had electricity. It was a bold and drastic move for them. Eventually they both managed to attend university. My mom became a teacher and my dad a diplomat.

You've already told the story of your dad's posting to Tehran. Take us now to the mid-1970s. You're ten or eleven years old and your family is living in Kabul once again. What happened next?
My father received another overseas posting -- this time as a second secretary at the embassy in Paris. We moved there in October of 1976 for what we thought was going to be a four-year stint. Two years later, while we were still in France, the Communists staged a bloody coup at home and Daoud Khan, Afghanistan's President, was killed. At that point everybody was very scared. People were still traveling back and forth to Afghanistan, and given my father's position in the embassy we had a line of communication available to us, so we were able to hear reports of what was going on. We were hearing stories of executions and imprisonments. We learned of friends and distant relatives who were shot and killed. We learned about one of my distant cousins who tried to escape into Pakistan hidden in a fuel truck and who suffocated while en route. (That also became the basis for a scene in the book.) So we knew there was trouble. Then, in December of 1979, the Soviets invaded. That sealed our fate because at that point my father decided he wasn't going back. The question was whether to stay in France, where my parents at least felt fairly comfortable and where they'd learned the language and made friends, or move to America.

What is your strongest memory of that time in Paris after the Communists took over?
I remember it felt a little like I was living in a spy novel. Whenever we'd travel anywhere my father would insist we all wait by the elevator in the garage while he went clear across the parking lot to get the car and bring it to us. People were getting killed and he was afraid that someone may have planted a bomb in the car. And you had to be careful about what you said, and to whom, because the new regime sent its own diplomats to Paris. There was one man in particular who brought his family with him including a pair of boys my age. I remember meeting them for the first time and noticing they were wearing their Khalq party buttons on their Levis jackets. (The Khalq party was one of Afghanistan's socialist factions.) They began referring to me as ‘comrade'. It was pretty shocking and it gave me an idea of the sort of brainwashing that was going on in Kabul during that era. It was a time of great uncertainty and fear for us. We wondered if we'd ever see Afghanistan again.

Was the move to the US something you're family talked about? Or did your father just gather the family together one day and say, ‘We're moving to America!'?
I don't remember any family meetings, but I knew my father was mulling over moving us to the States. I think he never mentioned it for security reasons. Kids talk. In any event we moved to San Jose, California, in September of 1980. I was delighted. My parents still live there by the way. In fact almost my entire family still lives there with the exception of two of my four siblings, who live in San Diego.

How difficult was the transition to the US?
That first couple of years in America was a difficult time for all of us. For my siblings and me, in addition to the anxiety of learning a new language, there were the usual fears of adolescence and pre- adolescence: Will I fit in? Will I make friends? Am I ever going to learn English? And will other kids make fun of me? Starting essentially from scratch was much harder on my parents. They'd had established lives and careers and identities.

They'd had homes and land that they'd given up. And now they had to assimilate into a brand new culture at a stage in their lives when assimilation was not particularly easy. I think the hardest adjustment for my parents, especially my dad, was the notion of being on welfare.

I clearly remember our first Christmas here in the States. We were home entertaining some Afghan friends -- it was the middle of the afternoon -- when we heard a knock on the door. When we opened the door a procession of Boy Scouts walked into the house with boxes of canned food, old clothes, a Christmas tree and used toys. We were appreciative but for my parents it was a mortifying experience. They'd always been proud, self-sufficient people. For them to lose everything they'd owned and suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of charity was a tough pill to swallow. Soon after that my dad got a job as a driving instructor. He then drove down to the welfare office and said, ‘No more!' He volunteered us off of welfare.

What do you remember most about the US when you first arrived?
My clearest impression was one of amazement at the size of everything: the wideness of the streets, the size of the homes, the manicured lawns, the sheer number of cars and people and freeways. It was a little overwhelming and very exciting too. I remember feeling this very dizzying sense of hope that anything could and would happen in this place if you wanted it bad enough. It was an amazingly powerful feeling that few people experience who aren't immigrants. Because of that sense of hope and mystery I'll always look back fondly on those early years here.

Are your parents still alive? And, if so, what are they doing now?
My mother is not working; my father is an eligibility officer -- he dispenses welfare. And most of his clients are Afghans.

That's pretty ironic considering his position on welfare when he first came to this country.
It's one of those things that would make a great piece of fiction. When we first came to the States he worked as a driving instructor but it was a very stressful job. When he developed diabetes and heart disease he started looking for alternatives and eventually found his current position. He feels it's an honorable job and he feels he's truly helping people in need. As I said, most of his clients are Afghans. His experiences, and the difficulties he had in accepting welfare, have allowed him to identify with his clients and given him a sense of empathy that others might not have.

What are your parents' feelings now on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan? Do they have any desire to go back?
They miss Afghanistan and Kabul but they're very concerned about the security issue. There are also health issues for my father. He's got diabetes and coronary heart disease, pulmonary problems, and he's already had one bout with cancer. Nevertheless he, too, has expressed some interest in going back, at least for a visit. Currently I think my parents are hopeful about the situation there but, like everyone else, they're concerned about the various warlords and tribal chiefs who are all vying for their own interests.

Everybody's afraid that that may lead to the undoing of this incredible opportunity for the country. And depending on whom you ask, and what their particular backgrounds are, Mr. Karzai is either doing a wonderful job or failing miserably. Personally I think he's doing an admirable job. I think he must have one of the roughest tasks of any world leader.

How did the story itself come together?
It came together for me when the character of Hassan began to emerge. He came to life as a result of two separate incidents in my own life, one of which was pleasant and the other decidedly unpleasant. The first occurred in the early 1970s when my father, who worked for the Afghan foreign ministry, was posted to the embassy in Tehran. I was about six at the time. Dad had hired a cook in Kabul, a man named Hussein Khan, and brought him with us. Khan was an ethnic Hazara -- a minority that had, at best, been neglected by Afghanistan's Pashtun government, and, at worst, persecuted, for more than 200 years. Khan was about thirty years old -- a short, stocky man with black hair. He was very soft-spoken, very gentle. He and I became fairly friendly. I don't know if he had a family, or whether he'd been married, but I do remember he never wrote any letters to, or received any letters from, home. I asked him why that was. He said it was because he couldn't read or write. When I asked why not he said it was because no one had ever taught him. Naturally I said, I'll teach you. I guess I was in the third grade at the time. Within a year he could read and write, albeit with a childlike handwriting. (I used that incident in the novel for the character Soraya.) I was pretty proud of him and myself. He called me ‘Professor Khaled'. I don't remember the exact circumstances of how it happened but Kahn ended up moving away. I don't know what became of him. It wasn't until much later that I fully appreciated that my time with Hussein Khan had been my first personal exposure to the unfairness and injustices that permeate society. Here was a man who grew up illiterate, and who was denied the opportunities I was offered as a third grader, simply because of his race.

Some of the images you write about, particularly when Amir goes back Afghanistan, are incredibly painful: the trek to Kabul, the stoning at Ghazi stadium and the stories of casual Taliban cruelty. If you haven't been back in more than twenty years where did those images come from? What allowed you to create such vivid scenes and draw such vivid pictures?
Those scenes were a combination of things I've read and news footage I've seen. For example, there was that famous footage shot by a woman, which showed a Taliban soldier publicly executing another woman at a soccer stadium. He put a shotgun to the back of her head and pulled the trigger. There was also footage of the Taliban bringing a convicted murderer onto the soccer field. I believe it was the brother of the victim who was then handed a knife and asked to slit the murderer's throat, which he then proceeded to do.

Much of the rest is based purely on my imagination: what it must feel like to be in a situation like that, what a Mullah might say, what the crowd's reaction might be, and so on. I also drew heavily on the eyewitness accounts of people who had visited Afghanistan under the Taliban. I used to sit around and hear them tell incredible horror stories of conditions at home. Once I started writing that part of the novel I went back and contacted some of those people to learn more details.

What do you want readers to get out of this book?
I want them to see that the Afghan people existed before there was a war with the Soviets and before there was a Taliban. I want them to understand that the things we're seeing now in Afghanistan -- the tribal chiefs vying for their own interests and the various ethnicities colliding with each other -- have roots that go back several centuries. I try to illuminate some of those things through the experiences of Amir and his Hazara servant, Hassan. I want readers to have a really good time reading this story. I want them to be touched by it because to me novel writing, first and foremost, is storytelling. And I was brought up on a tradition of storytelling. I want people to get involved with the characters and care for them. And I want people to simply remember Afghanistan. If the book is successful at all in sparking some dialogue on Afghanistan, and keeping it in the public consciousness, then I think it will have achieved a lot.
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Reading Group Guide

An Introduction from the Publisher
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 his is a failure in the imposing man's eyes; Hassan, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Amir and Hassan's deep but inherently fatal friendship is a complex tapestry of both love and loss.

Striving to be the son his father always wanted, Amir takes on the weight of living up to unrealistic expectations and places the fate of his relationship with his father on the outcome of a kite running tournament, a popular challenge in which participants must cut down the kites of others with their own kite. Amir wins the tournament. Yet just as he begins to feel that all will be right in the world, a tragedy occurs with his friend Hassan in a back alley on the very streets where the boys once played. This moment marks a turning point in Amir's life-one whose memory he seeks to bury by moving to America. There he realizes his dream of becoming a writer and marries for love but the memory of that fateful day will prove too strong to forget. Eventually it draws Amir back to Afghanistan to right the wrongs that began that day in the alley and continued in the days, months, and years that followed.

Discussion Questions
1. The novel begins with Amir's memory of peering down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a tragedy. The novel ends with Amir kite running for Hassan's son, Sohrab, as he begins a new life with Amir in America. Why do you think the author chooses to frame the novel with these scenes? Refer to the following passage: "Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end...crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis [nomads]." How is this significant to the framing of the novel?

2. The strong underlying force of this novel is the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss their friendship. Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan's true friend? Why does Amir constantly test Hassan's loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be Hassan's friend?

3. Early in Amir and Hassan's friendship, they often visit a pomegranate tree where they spend hours reading and playing. "One summer day, I used one of Ali's kitchen knives to carve our names on it: 'Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul.' Those words made it formal: the tree was ours." In a letter to Amir later in the story, Hassan mentions that "the tree hasn't borne fruit in years." Discuss the significance of this tree.

4. We begin to understand early in the novel that Amir is constantly vying for Baba's attention and often feels like an outsider in his father's life, as seen in the following passage: "He'd close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups time with him. I'd sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter." Discuss Amir's relationship with Baba.

5. After Amir wins the kite running tournament, his relationship with Baba undergoes significant change. However, while they form a bond of friendship, Amir is still unhappy. What causes this unhappiness and how has Baba contributed to Amir's state of mind? Eventually, the relationship between the two returns to the way it was before the tournament, and Amir laments "we actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of tissue paper, glue, and bamboo could somehow close the chasm between us." Discuss the significance of this passage.

6. As Amir remembers an Afghan celebration in which a sheep must be sacrificed, he talks about seeing the sheep's eyes moments before its death. "I don't know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch, I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal's eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose." Why do you think Amir recalls this memory when he witnesses Hassan's tragedy in the alleyway? Amir recollects the memory again toward the end of the novel when he sees Sohrab in the home of the Taliban. Discuss the image in the context of the novel.

7. America acts as a place for Amir to bury his memories and a place for Baba to mourn his. In America, there are "homes that made Baba's house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a servant's hut." What is ironic about this statement? What is the function of irony in this novel?

8. What is the significance of the irony in the first story that Amir writes? After hearing Amir's story, Hassan asks, "Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn't he have just smelled an onion?" How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir's life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character between Hassan and Amir?

9. Why is Baba disappointed by Amir's decision to become a writer? During their argument about his career path, Amir thinks to himself: "I would stand my ground, I decided. I didn't want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that, I had damned myself." What has Amir sacrificed for Baba? How has Amir "damned himself"?

10. Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya and Amir and their fathers. How have their upbringings contributed to these relationships?

11. Discuss how the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in the novel.

12. On Amir's trip back to Afghanistan, he stays at the home of his driver, Farid. Upon leaving he remarks: "Earlier that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fistful of crumpled money under the mattress." Why is this moment so important in Amir's journey?

13. Throughout the story, Baba worries because Amir never stands up for himself. When does this change?

14. Amir's confrontation with Assef in Wazir Akar Khan marks an important turning point in the novel. Why does the author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way? What is this the significance of the scar that Amir develops as a result of the confrontation? Why is it important in Amir's journey toward forgiveness and acceptance?

15. While in the hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a dream in which he sees his father wrestling a bear: "They role over a patch of grass, man and beast...they fall to the ground with a loud thud and Baba is sitting on the bear's chest, his fingers digging in its snout. He looks up at me, and I see. He's me. I am wrestling the bear." Why is this dream so important at this point in the story? What does this dream finally help Amir realize?

16. Amir and Hassan have a favorite story. Does the story have the same meaning for both men? Why does Hassan name his son after one of the characters in the story?

17. Baba and Amir know that they are very different people. Often it disappoints both of them that Amir is not the son that Baba has hoped for. When Amir finds out that Baba has lied to him about Hassan, he realizes that "as it turned out, Baba and I were more alike than I'd never known." How does this make Amir feel about his father? How is this both a negative and positive realization?

18. When Amir and Baba move to the States their relationship changes, and Amir begins to view his father as a more complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see the changes in Baba as tragic or positive?

19. Discuss the difference between Baba and Ali and between Amir and Hassan. Are Baba's and Amir's betrayals and similarities in their relationships of their servants (if you consider Baba's act a betrayal) similar or different? Do you think that such betrayals are inevitable in the master/servant relationship, or do you feel that they are due to flaws in Baba's and Amir's characters, or are they the outcome of circumstances and characters?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 2279 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    unforgettable....

    The Kite Runner takes place in both Afghanistan and California. It's told from the perspective of Amir, first as a little boy and later on as a man. Amir grows up a privileged boy in Afghanistan. His best friend is Hassan, the son of the family servant. Amir is Pashtun, Hassan is Hazara. Amir is Sunni, Hassan is Shi'a. Their differences don't change the fact that these boys were breastfed together, learned to crawl together and are basically inseparable. Then everything changes. Amir witnesses a horror done to Hassan and cannot forgive himself for not stepping in to help him and to do what is right. In 1975 Afghanistan is in turmoil and Amir, then 12 years old, and his father move to San Francisco. Amir grows up feeling guilt and self-hatred over the issue with Hassan and the subsequent results. Then one day, twenty five years after Amir has left Afghanistan, he receives a phone call summoning him back to the place he had hoped to forget. The caller tells Amir "there is a way to be good again."<BR/><BR/>The Kite Runner has for it's hero a very flawed human being.....but that's what makes him so believable. Amir the boy does a very cowardly, dastardly deed but Amir the man stands up to the Taliban and even more importantly, he stands up for what is right. This book has forgiveness, redemption and courage for it's main themes. We see how strong the ties of friendship and loyalty can become through the eyes of Amir and a broken little Afghan boy. The setting in Kabul and the culture of the Afghan people make for an interesting backdrop to an unforgettable novel.

    86 out of 92 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Kite Runner

    The story is tragic and heart rending. At some points I really disliked the main character, but I could relate with his frustrations and guilt. He redeemed himself with his bravery in the end. The characters are deep, and the interactions between them are as natural as if the author had witnessed them himself (or, indeed, experienced them!). There is a little bit of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in the main character and his hair-lipped friend, respectively. I loved how many plot threads from the main character's childhood came back to him in adulthood, which brought back all the main character's childhood anxieties. I have never known a thing about Afghanistan, except what I hear on the news, but this book brought that beautiful, beleaguered country to life for me in ways I never could have imagined. I was transported to and immersed in a world that is totally beyond the awareness of most westerners. Through Hosseini's magic, I became part of that world and literally felt young Amir's and Hassan's every feeling. A superb novel, both historical and relevant for our times. This is a well written novel that's very culturally and politically aware, and it is certainly worth the time.

    29 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Has become my most treasured book.

    I was given this book about two years ago and it sat on my shelf until now, and I cant believe I didnt read it sooner. I cried, I laughed, and feel in to deep thought throughout this whole book. Its beautiful and you will fall in love with the characters right away. Hassan was my favorite character and you will love him too. I cried so much throughout this book because it evoked such feeling inside of me, do yourself a favor and BUY THE BOOK!

    26 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2008

    GREAT NOVEL

    This is an amazing novel. I read this book because my cousin recommended it as a good summer read. I did not think that I was going to enjoy it but I was very wrong. This is one of the best novels I have ever read. I have to admit that the beginning seemed slow to me, but after one of its most controversial episodes I was hooked and could not put the book down. This novel was an emotional rollercoaster and surprisingly suspenseful at times. The writing is excellent and allows the reader to get into the mind of the protagonist, Amir, during all of the events he goes through. It is almost as if the reader is feeling the same emotions as Amir. The themes in this novel were very interesting to me. They range from relationships between family members (especially father and son) and loyalty among friends to the horrors war and social problems of the era. This leads me to another aspect that kept me so intrigued with this novel. I learned many new things about the history and culture of Afghanistan and it people. It was shocking to see the problems Afghans faced during the time while Russia had control of the region. In addition it was astounding to see the difference in social class based on the race or different sects of Islam. I knew that Sunni and Shi¿a had problems but I did not know to what extent. It was fascinating to learn so much history and culture but still have a beautiful and inspiring story. The relationships between the characters in this novel are amazing. It is filled with so much emotion that I could not help but to feel for all the characters. Each character has there own story and importance which keeps the reader entertained. When these stories come together is when it really gets appealing. I have to say that my favorite parts were the scenes that show the conditions of war during the Taliban control. Many of the events are filled with suspense during these parts I could not stop reading. This book really is a page-turner and I recommended it highly to all readers in high school and up. One of the most important and influential things I learned about in this book was the power of loyalty and how if someone feels like they have broken that loyalty they will do anything to get it back.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    Worst book I think I have ever read

    I do not understand all of the good reviews for this book. The only good part of the book is the historical perspective. The main character is a horrible person. The writer¿s idea of redemption is pathetic in my opinion.

    11 out of 91 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2005

    Unbelievably Moving

    I just finsihed reading this book. I have not stopped crying for an hour. It really moved me!!!!!!!! I lived & traveled in Afghanistan & the Middle east & India from 1976 to 78. The Shah was in power, Indira Gandhi also. When I was there Russia was just starting to invade. I went & watched a buscachi tournament in that fatal stadium. The Afghan people were & still are my favorite people in that part of the world. This book gave me so much more insight that I never new about the Afghan people & their culture & customs. Thank you!!! I am horrified & disheartened as an American that we have not done more for these amazing compassionate, generous people & country. They are truly victoms of this so called 'war on terrorism', Thank you Khaled Hosseini for this book, for the gift of your magnificant words. I am humbled!!!!

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    "For you, a thousand times over."

    The author weaves a stunning portrait of a country torn by war, depicted as once beautiful. His language draws the reader into the novel like a true artist into a painting full of color and truth."The Kite Runner" was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Every page was a new adventure for Hassan or a new discovery for Amir. The title of my review is the central quote of the book.It represents all Hassan's unwavering loyalty to Amir, which is perhaps the most dangerous part of the story.
    The central themes are some of the most important topics of our time. Themes debated include rich vs. poor/social barriers, right and wrong, life choices, protecting those you love or yourself, admitting wrongdoing, and helping others even though it hurts yourself.I would recommend this book to anyone who has a little time and a lot of appreciation for good literature.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    This was an absolutely amazing book. One of the best books I've

    This was an absolutely amazing book. One of the best books I've ever read. 

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!!!!!!

    If you enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns, then you will love this one.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A beautifully haunting story

    The Kite Runner left me at a loss for words. The story is great. It's totally worth reading. But this is probably the most depressing book I've ever read. Not depressing in a bad way, the story is just emotionally difficult. It is a beautiful and gritty story of a boy's life and the guilt he must overcome. The story has some great plot turns (I even said "holy crap" out loud when I got to them), and is superbly written. Hosseini has written quite a masterpiece-impressive for this being his first novel. This story is filled with horrible things, although not entirely graphic. Hosseini describes horrible acts in such a powerfully impacting manner, but he doesn't resort to gratuitous description to achieve his impact. Hosseini's characters are so deep and well-thought out, that I found myself postulating how these characters lives would have been different had they made different choices. These characters came alive in me, and I suddenly felt as if I was reading a non-fictional account rather than fiction. I wanted their lives to turn our differently, and I wanted Afghanistan to turn out differently. I wish Kabul was spared the Soviets and the Taliban, and that children were still out kite fighting and eating kabob.

    This is a must read. It is an amazingly deep story that deserves plenty of time of thought and discussion. It is a new classic that should be in our future children's high school literature curriculum. Beautifully written, and a beautifully haunting story that will stay with me for a long time.

    Concerning the Illustrated Version: The photographs are a nice addition to the book, but the pictures do not directly correlate to the story (as in "The Da Vinci Code" Illustrated Version). There are sections of photographs, much like a non-fiction book where the pictures are centered in a group. I enjoyed looking at the photographs as they did relate to the story, but I would not miss them if I was reading the regular non-illustrated version. However, the Illustrated Version is a little nicer all around, including a nice jacket and embossed pattern on the hard cover, as well as thick, glossy pages. This is a wonderful gift book or addition to your library if you are a book person like me. But if you'd just as soon toss a book once you're done reading it, then I would stick with the regular mass paperback edition.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Excellent

    This was an excellent and fast read. I wished I had read it sooner. This book kept me intrigued and interested. Most important it kept me out of the fridge and my TV stayed off. Who needs cable vision when we have Khaled Hosseini to entertain us. Thank you Dr. Hosseini.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Important read.

    I read this book then saw the movie and i remember more from the book. It wasnt too graphic and taught me history and culture about another part of the world.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

    The Kite Runner

    The Kite Runner is a fiction novel written by "Khaled Hosseini". It mainly takes place in Afghanistan which is where Amir grew up and where the Kite fighting competition takes place in the 1970's. This story is about the journey of Amir's life from when he as a little twelve year old boy to becoming a grown man in his 30's.
    When Amir was born, his mother had died after she gave birth to him, which caused a lot of pain to Baba, Amir's father. Amir loved his father very much, but thought that his father didn't love him back because he was the reason his mother had died. Amir had a best friend and his name was Hassan. Hassan was the son of Amir's father's best friend Ali, Hassan and Ali were also Amir's and his father's servants. When Amir was a young boy, he always wanted to be the last one standing in the Kite fighting competition so he would be known is great ways by his father and his community. Amir end's up winning the Kite fighting competition just as he hoped; Hassan tells Amir that he would go get the Kite that Amir cut to show his victory. Amir went looking for Hassan and found him in a dark ally, but soon realize that he was not alone. Hassan was being held down by Wali and Kamal while being raped by Assef. These three boys always made trouble with Hassan and Amir and Hassan would always be the one to defend the both of them.
    Amir decided to pretend he never saw or knew that Hassan was raped. During Amir's thirteenth birthday, one of Baba's closest friends Rahim Khan walked up to Amir and asked him if he knew anything about Hassan's being so quiet and sad looking lately; even though Rahim Khan already knew. Amir said he had no clue just like he was planning to do. Later on Amir is felling so guilty by then and decides that it's time for Hassan to leave. Amir left money and his watch that he got for his birthday under Hassan's bed and told Baba that Hassan had stolen it from him. Even though Hassan knew he didn't do it he still says he did; Ali and Hassan decide to move away and out of Baba's house.
    Years later Baba and Amir leave Kabul because of the war that's going on and decide to move to America. It took about two years for them to finally reach Fremont, California where they have decided to live. Amir finished the rest of his high school years in Fremont when he was 20 years old, and enrolled in college to become a writer. Amir met the love of his life when he and his father were at a flea market; the girl name was Soraya who ended up being the daughter of one of Baba's old friends from Kabul. Not to long after Amir and Soraya had been talking, Baba was diagnosed with lung cancer. Amir then told his father that he want to ask Soraya's father for her hand in marriage. Baba talked with Soraya's father, General Taheri who agreed and let Amir marry his daughter. After the wedding about a month later Baba had died from the cancer. Amir and Soraya had decided that they wanted to start a family; they tried for years but they couldn't get pregnant. Amir was still continuing his writing career and ended up becoming a famous fiction writer.
    After a few years, Amir gets a phone call from an old friend Rahim Khan and hears the news that he is very sick and Rahim wants Amir to come and visit him. Amir arrives at the house Rahim is living at and is told how a lot has changed since after the war and the Soviets were kicked out by the Taliban. Rahim also had a letter for Amir from Hassan that was written six months earlier; and Amir

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

    Thoughtful and Touching!

    I recently read The Kite Runner, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, and was blown away by the images he could paint in my mind, his thoughtfulness, and his ability to show a country that has been relentlessly criticized and slandered from a different perspective.
    Afghanistan really came to life for me in this novel. Events and situations were so detailed and precise that I found myself able to picture the scene in my mind down to the style of sunglasses the Taliban member was wearing. Paragraphs that were meant to haunt me, haunted me. Sections that were meant to shock me, shocked me. Khaled Hosseini did an excellent job getting his points across. In all the best books, the readers feel pain when the characters are in pain, feel relief when the characters are relieved. I cried, laughed, sighed, and smiled countless times throughout this novel.
    I was extremely impressed by how concise the novel was. I could tell that Khaled Hosseini thought about every word he typed out. Every page, paragraph and word was carefully thought out and had an important meaning to it. Nothing was ever there just to take space. I never got bored while reading, because every part of the novel there were barely any wordy and unnecessary sections.
    Before reading this book, the only thing I new about Afghanistan was that it had crazy terrorists who wanted to destroy America. I never realized how much the country as a whole was suffering. The Kite Runner talked about Afghanistan through native eyes, and I was able to look at each situation from a different perspective. For example, I used to think that Afghans respected the Taliban. From this novel, I realized that they obey out of fear, not out of respect. This made me able to empathize more with them instead of blaming them for events that happened because of their rulers. Why is there always a prosecution AND a defense in a trial? There are always two sides to every situation. The Kite Runner tells Afghanistan's side of the story when no one else dared to.
    The Kite Runner will scare you, shock you, and haunt you. It will bring both tears of joy and tears of sorrow to your eyes. More than that, it will show you a different facet of the situation we've been hearing about for years. It will allow you to take a look from inside the war zone. It will harshly knock you to the ground with its gritty realities and then carefully help you back up again with its story of love, redemption, and compassion.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2008

    I'll have to agree with Ella

    I am an avid reader. This book was recommended to me as ' the best book you can ever read.' I am in shock by the multitude of amazing reviews. This book was so disturbing to me that I had trouble even finishing it. There was nothing positive or enlightening about it. I will never forget it. If that is what the author wants to create, then the picture will stick in my mind, but it was extremely disturbing to me. Society must thrive on reading gloom and doom. My mom, who loves to read, could not even read it, she thought it was so disturbing. You couldn't pay me enough to go to sit through the movie. This book sits on my shelf along with all of my other books, but somehow it is haunting. I will give it to anyone who wants it, just to get rid of it from my sight.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Very good book!

    The Kite Runner is such touching book that can rarely be found in literature

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    The Kite Runner is about an Afghani boy Amir and his family

    The Kite Runner is about an Afghani boy Amir and his family servant's son Hassan. They were raised together and were best of friends throughout their childhood. The main conflict of the novel is an internal conflict, man vs. himself. One day after a kite tournament, Amir witnesses a horrendous action done to his friend while he does nothing to try and stop it. This regret lives with him as he grows up to a man. About 20 years after he and his father moved to America, Amir receives a phone call from an old family friend. He tells him there is a way that he can right his wrong doing, so he decides to accept the offer and travels back to Afghanistan for his mission. Here, he puts himself in grave danger to save a young boy who has had a rough life and help him to a better place.
    What I like about this book is that for once, the main character isn't a flawless being that doesn't make mistakes. In this book, it's more lifelike and something you can relate to, which causes it to hook you. Also, I liked how Amir went from a coward and fearful, to courageous and more loving, which is an interesting twist in the story. Also, the style of writing makes it feel like you are there with them when all of it is happening. You get to know the characters so well that you can almost predict what will happen next. I think that's what makes a great book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone no matter what taste in books you have. I guarantee you will be moved in many parts of the novel. Also, it teaches a lot about their culture. It's truly an unforgettable book and will be in the back of your mind.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    At the beginning of the story, Baba is Amir¿s dad. Amir¿s best f

    At the beginning of the story, Baba is Amir’s dad. Amir’s best friend and servant is Hassan, who is accompanied by his father. When Amir and his father Baba move into the United States, Amir meets his soon to be wife Soraya, and her parents, General Taheri and Khali Jala. The main conflict of this story is the character vs. his sins against Hassan, who he let get raped by older Afghan boys for getting the kite during the tournament. The first main plot event was when Amir and Hassan won the kite tournament but Hassan had to go get the kite to ensure their win, after Hassan gets it, Assef rapes him. Amir sees this, but doesn’t do anything, which pretty much ruins his life because of the guilt. One of the main plot events are Amir getting Hassan’s son Sohrab, Amir is kicked in the stomach by one of Assef’s accomplices, both of them are a part of the Taliban. Amir is only able to leave with Sohrab if he can leave alive with a beating from Assef with brass knuckles on. During the beating, Sohrab pulls out his slingshot and hits Assef in the eye, allowing them to leave.
    One of the main things I liked about this book is the reality of it. Most other stories have issues, but towards the end everything is fixed without too much suffering. In this book, Amir is doing right, but along the way he faces a lot of strife and physical suffering. Another is the fact that it is set in recent times, the 1970s. Not a lot of wars went on in that time, and it was about an overlooked war so we can see what civilians thought of. The third reason is when Afghans moved to America, they had opinions about American people. In this book we can see their opinions of the American people.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    The main characters in The Kite Runner are Amir and Baba. Other

    The main characters in The Kite Runner are Amir and Baba. Other important characters are Soraya, Sohrab, Hassan, Rahim Khan, and Assef. Amir is the son to Baba and Amir, during his childhood, always wanted to please Baba but he always found it hard to do so. Baba is a very tall and stocky man and he is the type of person that makes himself known to everyone he meets. Soraya is Amir’s wife and she is a very nice woman and Sohrab is Amir’s nephew. Hassan is Amir’s brother and Rahim Khan is Hassan’s “dad”. The main conflict in this book is an internal conflict for Amir but there are some external conflicts as well. The two main internal conflicts for Amir are that he always wants Baba to be proud of him but it was hard for him to please his father. The other internal conflict is that during the book Amir finds out that his whole life was a lie and he cannot believe that he was lied to his whole life. The external conflict is that Amir and his father are trying to escape to America because in their hometown in Kabul, there is a war going on and they want to escape from it. Two events happened that gave rise to the rising action. One event is when Amir finds out the truth about his life and who was his brother actually is. Another event is when Amir finally is able to please his father by accomplishing two events that makes his father proud.
    What I liked about this book is that Amir and his best friend Hassan always stick up for each other. For example, Assef is trying to bully Amir but Hassan pulls out his slingshot and this makes Assef step back. I also like when Amir gets older, he has to save Sohrab from Assef and Assef only will give Sohrab back to him if they fight. While they are fighting Sohrab pulls out his slingshot, hits Assef right in the eye, the pebble gets stuck in Assef’s eye and they are able to escape. One thing that I did not like about the book was that Amir’s childhood was a lie and he never knew the truth until he got older. I would recommend this book to people because it is an awesome book and its plot development is incredible and it seems like it can be a true story.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini is one of the most well-writt

    The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini is one of the most well-written books I have read. It has a powerful story with details so realistic it makes you feel there, which most of the time isn’t a very good place. This story about a boy aging into manhood in the most gruesome of places until being able to escape. Afghanistan is painted as one of the worst places to be. 
    Khaled Hosseini writes about a boy named Amir living in Afghanistan during the change into a democracy then the invasions by the Soviets. Him and his father must escape and do so, but Amir must go back when he is an adult to visit a dying friend and sees what his homeland had become.
    This book had outstanding visual details and supreme storytelling, along with a haunting plot that makes this book so good. The details show just how bad some things in life can be. The book has many emotional themes that make it hard to push through. The horrible things some human beings can do is conveyed by the author well in The Kite Runner. Some things in the book could be drawn out. It could have been brought along smoother.
    Most of the other reviews I agree with. The book is widely thought to be well wrote. The Kite Runner was a fantastic book. The story, details and riveting meaning come together to make a great novel.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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