The Kite Runner

A novel by Khalid Hosseini
Book Review

My readings in the recent past have been erratic. But I try to catch anything new and happening that might rock the literary world, other than keeping update of Jeffrey Archer‘s releases (which, I admit with a heavy heart, have not been really great in the past two cases Cat O Nine Tales and False Impression). Most times I am left sorely disappointed. And I end up going back to tried and tested P G Wodehouse or Agatha Christie to satiate the reading urge.

But The Kite Runner deserves all the accolades and praises it receives. It’s been quite sometime since a novel touched, moved, stimulated and inspired me the latter is a huge criterion, since I write my own stories as well. Dan Brown was one, but that was over two years ago.

Khalid Hosseini‘s The Kite Runner is to put it in one word scintillating! With his words he weaves a riveting yarn about guilt and redemption, about growing and maturing and about life and living. The story is in first person, about Amir, his yearning to get his father’s approval, his inner fears and of course, his guilt. In the winter of 1975 (after a successful kite-flying tournament)he witnesses an act against his faithful servant-cum-friend-cum confidante Hassan, which Amir could have prevented but doesn’t do so because of his own fear and cowardice. That one cold evening will shape his entire life, leading to more wrongs, revealing other secrets in his mature years and finally taking the story to its logical conclusion.

Set against the turbulent backdrop of Afghanistan, The Kite Runner charts its course keeping in mind the unrest that unleashes on the country post-seventies.


The novel is a success because of three major reasons- a) it brings alive the characters. Amir, his father Baba, his father’s friend Rahim Khan, the guileless servant Hassan and many others are people that seem to jump up from the cold words and get a warm life in your hearts and minds; b) the details are strewn in the most unassuming manner at various places, not giving away all at once, and not unnecessarily hiding it to fool the readers; and c) the twists are beautifully brought up, just when you are not expecting them, hitting you in the plexus like a sledgehammer; and despite it not being designed as a page-turning thriller it ends up being just that. Of course, it has a few contrived scenes, but then I will grant that to writer s liberty and frankly, when the whole is so beautiful, nitpicking on a few warts and moles is being damn petty. I also wish that the ending was trifle happier, though in no way can it be called tragic or failed.

It’s after aeons that a novel managed to bring a lump to my throat and moisten my eyes – nay, the tears flowed! The section where Amir and his father re-build their ravaged lives in America is one of the finest pieces of writing ever published. I had to in-between keep the book down only to absorb the overwhelming feeling that drowned me, and I kept staring at the ceiling long after, flush with countless emotions, thinking of my own father and my relation with him. I don’t know when I snuggled into sleep, but when I woke I could still feel my wet eyes. Anyone who has had even a fleetingly close bond with his/her father shouldn’t miss this novel ever. There is also a brief but charming track about Amir’s romance with Soraya in this section.

Hassan’s unflinching devotion towards Amir is the novel’s keystone, which not only sets the foundation for the story, but also is the motivator to take it forward. The relationship between the two, through their childhood years, is captured with all the innocence that those years carry. It brought back memories of Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird. In this section, the kite is a character of its own, as one relationship disintegrates during a kite-flying tournament and another is built in the climax in yet another such tournament. Successfully, Hosseini avoids making any judgements – if Amir is weak, he is so; that’s a human folly and there is no need to make unusually moral hue and cry about it. But then, the novel actually is about how he falls and rises – more so, in his own eyes, within his own parameters and structure.

Lastly and extremely importantly I read the novel voraciously analyzing the way Hosseini has built the scenes, the manner in which he constructs the sentences, the usage of similies and metaphors and the deployment of words and grammar. It is simple, short and succinct, without using crutches of heavy words or long sentences. And I re-read some key portions to understand the machinery behind the scenes. Absolutely A-class!

Overall – Simply Don’t Miss It Ever!


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13 thoughts on “The Kite Runner”

  1. i haven’t read it yet, fearing a sad ending and you know how I hate sad endings and tear jerkers.

  2. hmmm…I too finished reading it some days back and must confess that it was a wonderful read. Makes you feel so connected with that deep hidden guilt we all carry for being weak at times when we were supposed to stand..

    have you read Shantaram? try this too…its become one of my all time favourites…a bit longish but a wonderfully crafted tale..

  3. just realized that this page had a record low of comments compared to your other posts….does that point to a dwindling species called book readers? why is the tabloid stuff more popular?

  4. Don’t you think that bloggers should be less mindless and post on more meaningful things such as charity? America is in the toilet and you aren’t do your fair share to make it better. You are a journalist but not an activist. I would hate to be you.

    Consider making a difference and make your next blog entry on something worth caring about. How about suggesting to your readers your favorite charity. Maybe some of them will even contribute…

    http://duckdown.blogspot.com/

  5. James – I am not a journalist, and I am not in US.

    Actually, why don’t you practice what you preach, didn’t see much about charity in the page I visited of yours :)

    TA – Quite possible, books and book lovers are thinning in the age of internet :)

    Pri – Not really sad , or sad ended…can read it … I am sure you will love it!

    Mehak – true, an awesome book. Now I want to read the author’s next one, but just fear that it might not turn out to be a case of over-expectation!

  6. Hi,Deepak..nice review..will keep an eye out for the book..lately, the only novels I’ve been able to finish are Perry Masons.:)

  7. Hello,
    I chanced here coming through Memsaab’s blog, which you must know! And I’m a great fan of Khaled Hosseini’s novels. The kite runner is – you’re right – absolutely fabulous! Have you read A thousand splendid suns too? But perhaps The kite runner contains more freshness, more poignancy… I don’t know.
    cheers

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