- Hardcover: 371 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead; 1st US Ed. edition (June 2, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573222453
- ISBN-13: 978-1573222457
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6,010 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kite Runner Hardcover – Abridged, June 2, 2003
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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.
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I read this book after reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" because I was beginning to really become aware of how many of our fellow brothers and sisters in other places in the world have the same desires that we do in the United States: to raise our children with a sense of morality, the determination to make more of oneself, and the endurance to keep going in horrific times and situations.
The narrator of this story is so breathtakingly honest that I feel that his conscience is only open to me. This story allows me to recognize that more than likely every human who has ever walked this earths has had moments of deep regret, and that if we could, we would go back and redo as we examine how life could have been different if other choices were made.
Reading this book has made this far away place seem so much closer - and its people much more understandable to me. It's an emotional read but a must-read for all who, like me, have not read a book like it.
Throughout the novel, Hosseini recounts the story through the first person mind of Amir whose guilt-driven consciousness drives the plot. Hosseini weaves the idea that redemption is important because sin is enduring throughout the story. He explains that Amir seeks to help Sohrab, Hassan’s son, as he realizes that he has been “peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” It becomes apparent that his cowardice and betrayal towards Hassan has plagued his consciousness with guilt. Without relief, he cannot live a normal life that he had tried to build in the United States.
The title of the book also reveals an important aspect of the plot as the kite fighting tournaments become essential to understanding the underlying meaning of the story. Kite fighting in the beginning of the novel represents the distinct dichotomy that was occurring at that in Afghanistan between the Pashtuns and the Hazaras, but it also represents the strong bond between the half brothers. In the end, the kite fighting represents the promising future that was ahead of Sohrab and Amir. Hosseini reveals that Amir had “looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth curled up just so. A smile.” Although, he has sinned in the beginning, Amir finally finds his redemption and relief within Sohrab.
Overall, this book was very captivating as it keeps readers on their toes throughout the entire story. One can feel a sort of connection with the narrator further aiding the reader the importance of redemption. I would give this book five stars.
This is the second time I read this book. I still enjoyed it a lot, but feel there are a few holes in the plot that detract from the wonderful, elegant writing. One problem is the rigmarole in Islamabad about adoption there. It now just seems a setup for Sohrab to try to kill himself and drive Amir back into guilt-filled misery. And in fact, by the end of the novel Sohrab still hasn't come back from that. Also, why was it ultimately so easy to get Sohrab into the US? The book does not explain. I also thought the return of Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, was a curious coincidence. Similarly, Rahim Khan's invention of Thomas and Betty Caldwell in order to get Amir to bring Sohrab to Peshawar, knowing that once Amir found out about the deception, he would not let Sohrab go, was contrived.
But there is so much of this book to love. The writing, the characters, and especially the portrait of a country that I, like so many Americans, have many misconceptions and very little actual knowledge about. Very much worth reading.