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The Kite Runner Hardcover – June 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead; First Edition edition (June 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573222453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573222457
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in thirty-eight countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in northern California.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
3,128
4 star
715
3 star
241
2 star
147
1 star
102
See all 4,333 customer reviews
It is a beautiful story and very well written.
Claudia J Hernandez
It examines life's everyday themes of friendship, love, loss, resentment, guilt and redemption.
Dana Al-Husseini
This is one of the books that you will start to read and never want to put down.
Debbie Losh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,657 of 1,818 people found the following review helpful By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The earth turns and the wind blows and sometimes some marvelous scrap of paper is blown against the fence for us to find. And once found, we become aware there are places out there that are both foreign and familiar. Funny what the wind brings.
And now it brings "The Kite Runner," a beautiful novel by Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini that ranks among the best-written and provocative stories of the year so far.
Hosseini's first novel -- and the first Afghan novel to be written originally in English -- "The Kite Runner" tells a heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, and Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Amir is Sunni; Hassan is Shi'a. One is born to a privileged class; the other to a loathed minority. One to a father of enormous presence; the other to a crippled man. One is a voracious reader; the other illiterate.
The poor Hassan is born with a hare lip, but Amir's gaps are better hidden, deep inside.
Yet Amir and Hassan live and play together, not simply as friends, but as brothers without mothers. Their intimate story traces across the expansive canvas of history, 40 years in Afghanistan's tragic evolution, like a kite under a gathering storm. The reader is blown from the last days of Kabul's monarchy -- salad days in which the boys lives' are occupied with school, welcome snows, American cowboy movies and neighborhood bullies -- into the atrocities of the Taliban, which turned the boys' green playing fields red with blood.
This unusually eloquent story is also about the fragile relationship fathers and sons, humans and their gods, men and their countries. Loyalty and blood are the ties that bind their stories into one of the most lyrical, moving and unexpected books of this year.
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147 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on October 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read 2-3 books a week, and this is without a doubt my favorite of this year. No, I'll go further: it's one of maybe 8-10 books I'd choose to take to a deserted isle. I've put The Kite Runner directly into the hands of perfect strangers in book stores and said, "Read this one."
In a nutshell, Amir, the son of a well-to-do Afghani , has a best friend, Hassan, who is the illiterate child of Amir's father's long-time servant. Both children are motherless. A horrific event, a secret kept, the loss of personal honor, and a lie come between the boys. From that rift, the story moves forward as Amir and his father emigrate to California, where Amir matures, marries, and becomes a successful writer, but is still plagued by those old sins and lies. Then comes a revelation of still one more long-held secret that sets Amir on a return trip to Afghanistan (now under the worst years of Taliban dominance) to rescue Hassan's child. Author Hosseini doesn't shy from one iota of unpleasantness, and the result is a book with a perfect narrative arc, a sterling story line, unforgettable characters, and and and and... I had the opportunity to meet the author very briefly (just to shake his hand and gush a bit about his extraordinary book) at Books by the Bay in San Francisco and am delighted to report that he is charming, approachable, and thoroughly engaging. He deserves all the accolades that are coming his way.
Buy The Kite Runner. Read it. Then go back to the store and buy 2 more signed 1st editions - one to keep as an investment and one to give to your best friend.
...what a fine book!
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Frampton on August 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly magnificent book! Without a doubt one of the very best stories I have ever read, not just because it is so beautifully written, but also because it is an important story. It takes place during the last thirty years of turbulent history in Afghanistan, and deals with a family and their love for each other and for their country. Author Khalid Hosseini no doubt has drawn heavily on his own life experiences to bring us this story. He was born to a wealthy family in Kabul Afghanistan and came to America as a political refugee in 1980. In The Kite Runner, Amir is the son of a prominent Pashtun family; his best friend, Hassan is the son of their servant man and a Hazara, a much hated ethnic minority. Despite their ethnic differences, Amir and Hassan are close friends throughout their childhood, both of them always mindful of Hassan's servant status. The two boys grow and learn, one of them privileged, the other deprived, both of them secure in the bosom of a prominent Pashtun family, both loved by the patriarch of that family, while the winds of change blew ceaselessly over the Afghan landscape. This story traces the lives of Amir and Baba his proud Father, and of Hassan and Ali his Father and faithful servant to Baba. In July of 1973, the people of Afghanistan woke to learn that while their King Zahir Shah was away in Italy, the Afghan monarchy had been ended in a bloodless coup led by the King's cousin Daoud Kahn. For a while there was peace in their lives but it was not to last. Before the end of that decade came first the Russians with soldiers, tanks and helicopter gun ships, and when they left, came the years of wanton destruction by the countless tribal war lords.Read more ›
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