The #1 New York Times bestselling debut novel that introduced Khaled Hosseini to millions of readers the world over.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, caught in the tragic sweep of history, The Kite Runner transports readers to Afghanistan at a tense and crucial moment of change and destruction. A powerful story of friendship, it is also 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.
Since its publication in 2003 Kite Runner has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic of contemporary literature, touching millions of readers, and launching the career of one of America's most treasured writers.
About the Author
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed. He is A U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Date of Birth:March 4, 1965
Place of Birth:Kabul, Afghanistan
Education:B.S. in biology, Santa Clara University, 1988; M.D., UC San Diego School of Medicine, 1993
Read an Excerpt
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.
What People are Saying About This
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.
"Soaring Debut." —Boston Globe
"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 Philadelphia Inquirer
"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 Denver Post
“A moving portrait of modern Afghanistan, from its pre-Russian-invasion glory days through the terrible reign of the Taliban."—Entertainment Weekly
An astonishing, powerful book.
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.
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?
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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!!!!
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.
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.
Love this book! Could not put it down.
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.
If you enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns, then you will love this one.
The Kite Runner is such touching book that can rarely be found in literature
This was an absolutely amazing book. One of the best books I've ever read.
This book greatly helps understand the conflict in Afghanistan.
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.
I read this years ago when it first came out and I CANNOT understand why it became such a bestseller. Because I cannot understand why people actually ENJOY reading about the sick treatment and abuse of other people. It wasn't even believable. It started out believable. But the cruelty and abuse at the end was too absurd to get my mind around. It COULD have been a beautiful story of friendship and redemption but then it probably wouldn't have been a bestseller!!!! This book actually made me VERY CAUTIOUS about reading from the best seller list. When I hear or see this book or movie mentioned I actually cringe. It was that bad. I can't believe this is actually on required reading lists for school. No wonder kids today don't like to read.
Wonderful book. The author writes with passion and emotion. Explores humanity & choices we make. His characters are real, flawed, human. At times unlikeable. But honest. I could not put it down
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.
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!
Wish I could say I couldn't put it down but I had to So moving and gut-wrenching that emotionally I couldn't go on at times A must read for anyone who is concerned with the world around us
Perhaps one of the best books out there Sad ,heart warming, and enjoyable Excellent story line and characters
Emotionally ripping and gripping at you the entire book, the Kite Runner finds a way to transcend anything that could ever be expected and as a perfect cliche, haunts your for days...months...years....a true must read
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.
Peering into a time and culture few Westerners get to see, let alone understand. Mr. Hosseini puts us in his mind and vision and takes on a compelling, emotional and insiteful journey as his characters grow and change. Wonderful read!
Powerful story of an incredible friendship
Extremely well written.
I had to read this for my summer prodject At first sceptical( this books didnt seem my type of read ) but I finished this book in five days and I wish there was more the author paints an exquisit picture of modern day Afganistan :) Read it-love it-want more of it