Tuesday, April 02, 2013

332 (2013 #16). The Kite Runner

written and read by Khaled Hosseini

I first read this book in 2005, for a book club discussion.  Recently, I decided to listen to the audio version of this powerful story.  Khalad Hosseini does an excellent job reading his own work, and it's wonderful to have a reader who knows exactly how to pronounce the Farsi and Dari words he sprinkles in the novel.

Set in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1975-76, 1981, and August 2001; and in Fremont, California, from 1981 through December 2001, this novel has as its backdrop the tumultuous recent history of Afghanistan - the overthrow of the monarchy, the invasion of the Soviets, the takeover by the Taliban, and 9/11.

The main character is Amir, son of a wealthy man in Kabul he calls Baba.  When the book begins in December 2001, Amir is 38, and he is remembering what happened that previous summer, when an old family friend calls from Pakistan.  The book then flashes back to Kabul in 1975, when Amir is twelve years old.  His main companion is a boy a year younger than him, Hassan, the son of his father's servant Ali.  Ali and Hassan are Hazaras, an ethnic group looked down upon by other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.  Amir and Hassan compete together in kite-fighting competitions, and Hassan is Amir's kite runner - the one who tracks down the kites they cut down and brings them back as trophies.  One day in the winter of 1975, something happens while Hassan is running a kite that changes things forever.
Besides providing fascinating insights into life in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in America during this period, The Kite Runner is also an exploration of betrayal and "a way to be good again," of the relationships between fathers and sons, and of the meaning of friendship.  Highly recommended.

The graphic novel version (pictured at left), illustrated by Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo, doesn't have the depth of the original novel, but would be another good way (besides the audiobook) to introduce this worthwhile book to a reluctant reader.

© Amanda Pape - 2013

[The audiobook, a print copy for reference, and the graphic novel version of the story were borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]

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