The Kite Runner (Essential Edition)

The Kite Runner (Essential Edition)

4.6 1737
by Khaled Hosseini

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The New York Times bestseller and international classic loved by millions of readers.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading,

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The New York Times bestseller and international classic loved by millions of readers.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A moving portrait of modern Afghanistan."—Entertainment Weekly

"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 New York Times Book Review

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

"An astonishing, powerful book."—Diane Sawyer
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)

Albuquerque Journal
Hosseini's book is more than a typical coming-of-age story. Rather it is about personal salvation, betrayal, and redemption.
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
The Washington Post
Hosseini clearly loves his country as much as he hates what has become of it. — Pamela Constable
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)
...this extraordinary first novel locates the personal struggles of everyday people in the terrible sweep of history.
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
Entertainment Weekly
A moving portrait of modern Afghanistan.
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.
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 frills, no nonsense, just hard, spare 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

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Riverhead Essential Editions
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.67(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


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.


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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What People are saying about this

Isabel Allende
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.
From the Publisher
"A moving portrait of modern Afghanistan."—Entertainment Weekly

"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 New York Times Book Review

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

"An astonishing, powerful book."—Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer
An astonishing, powerful book.

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The Kite Runner 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 1737 reviews.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
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."

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.
Debbie-J-1970 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Ms_Marisa2013 More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely amazing book. One of the best books I've ever read. 
SD_Weston More than 1 year ago
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.
sjbfoxmimi1 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most memorable books I have ever read: the writing is lyrical in places, describing the beauty of the Afghanistan and its culture in vividly moving language. It is the beautifully drawn characters, full of nuances and illuminating events which bring the characters to life in a way I'll never forget. Regardless of one's nationality or religious beliefs, this is a book that captures the essence of all that is both good and bad about humanity. I cannot recommend this book highly enough....5 stars does not do it justice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me a little while to get going but once I did the story is so powerful, that I just couldn't put it down. Very good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
JessWhite More than 1 year ago
The Kite Runner is a beautifully written, enthralling read! The main character's inner turmoil is refreshingly honest. He battles with decisions driven by love, jealousy, guilt, and a sense of duty. This story of redemption forces the reader to consider the balance between self-preservation and loyalty.
melgkm23 More than 1 year ago
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.
Danester More than 1 year ago
This is such a great story. Helped me to have compassion for the people suffering from the Taliban and then the problems they have as immigrants. Sad in many parts. Great tale.
livida More than 1 year ago
I'm still grateful I got this book for only $1 at the library! Looking at the front cover, binding, back cover, and first few pages, it's filled with good reviews from all over. I say that the book is simply amazing in every way, shape, and form. I could write about it forever, but it is a must read! It's not understandable how a book can make you so emotional. I admit, I cried... a lot. I love this book! I wanted to hold on to every page.. even with rereading a lot of parts, I finished the book in a matter of days.
pnaanou More than 1 year ago
When my class was first assigned this book, we all sighed in a chorus. But after reading it, we all feel in love. This book tells the story of two young boys and their relationship. One of the boys lives the high life and the other is his servant, but they are best friends. One day a tragic event occurs which changes everything. Suddenly both their worlds are changed and as the plot progresses we see the overall meaning of the friendship between the two of them. This novel touched me deeply and gets down to the point of the conflict that is occurring in the Middle East today and we see how the people living there are just like us in many ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really have to disagree with most people. I didn't enjoy this book at all, way too disturbing and too many graphic scenes. I wouldnt reccommend this book to anyone. JUST DON'T READ IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Kite Runner' may have a good, even important, story to tell but it is so poorly written that I found it unbearable to keep reading. To compare it to 'Brick Lane' or 'The Namesake' is like comparing USA Today to The New York Times...not even close! Read 'The Storyteller's Daughter' if you want true but also beautifully written tales of Afganistan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jen_Taylor1 More than 1 year ago
One of the best novels I've ever read. A masterfully written story about flawed humans, the mistakes they make and the consequences they suffer. A touching and powerful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is simply a must read.. I mustn't give you any details about the novel because upon discovering the little details was the magic in reading this novel. Every detail is a piece to a puzzle which every question gets answered and you are left breathless.
Natalia_FP More than 1 year ago
After reading The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini it is the most heart warming and tragic story you could ever read. The story takes place in Afghanistan in 1975 phase. Told from the perspective of the young boy Amir as a child and into his adult years. Both boys Amir and Hassan  grew up with no mothers. Growing up Amir was privileged to have a nice house. While on the other hand Hassan was the son of the family's  servant. Both boys grew up together and were inseparable. Reading the novel you will be able to feel the emotions from each of the  characters.The kite runner will bring both tears of joy and sorrow. I favor the fact that some of the characters in the story learn to  change over time and that Amir and Hassan always stuck up for each other. I'd have to say this is one of my favorite novels I've read. I  loved the background setting of Afghanistan and the culture of Afghanistan people makes this book interesting to read.  -Natalia P.