Synopsis

The Kite Runner: a journey to recover a broken friendship


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The Kite Runner
In no way can Amir, the narrator of The Kite Runner, be classified as an ideal hero. He is an emotionally vulnerable boy whose greatest concern is winning his father’s true affection. Amir does not like dangers or risks; he tries to stay out of troubles even though it may mean that he needs to run away or sacrifice others in return. In short, he is like any one of us; full of defects and superficialities. But it is these seemingly undesirable qualities that distinguish him from many other cliché characters and makes an impression to the readers. Because of his faults, the readers can easily sympathize with him and are intrigued to follow along with him through his journey.

The novel revolves around the idea of friendship between Amir and Hassan. Despite that Hassan is Amir’s loyal “Hazara”, a lower class servant, Amir and Hassan form a strong bond through a shared childhood. But after an incident when young Amir horribly betrays Hassan, a chasm forms between them. Caught between the turmoil of Afghanistan’s civil wars, Amir and Hassan take completely different paths in life without recovering their friendship. They do not hear from each other for a long time, until adult Amir is given one last chance to redeem himself from his past guilt by traveling back to Afghanistan.

While continuously unraveling series of dramatic stories and keeping the readers on their toes, the book also manages to touch on more sensitive social issues such as Afghanistan’s unbreakable social hierarchy and the brutality of the Taliban. Although the novel does not provide much of the historical background, it gives the readers quite a vivid sense of how it would be like to live in today’s Afghanistan.

Review

Poignant, but overly dramatic at times


Surely, Khaled Hosseini made a strong impression on people around the globe after making a very successful debut as a writer through The Kite Runner. After reading the book to find out what the fuss is all about, I cannot say that I am in love with the book but I must agree that I can see how the book became such a successful bestseller. First of all, this book is very dramatic. The plot takes sudden turns just about when I start to wonder where the story is going and keeps me on a state of constant anticipation. Such pacing within The Kite Runner makes it one of those “hard to put down” books. At times it seemed to me that those events described in the book are too coincidental. The unrealistic aspect of the book continuously reminded me that this book is a fiction; sometimes making it harder to empathize with the characters. However, at the same time I could see why the author felt necessary to do so since those unrealistic aspects do help the readers feel emotionally relieved. For instance, I was glad to see that Sohrab (Hassan’s son) finally gets a chance to avenge his father and himself in the book after going through all the horrible things in his life caused by Assef. Even though the actual coincidence of Sohrab meeting Assef , yet alone taking revenge from Assef the exact way Hassan would have, seems to have a very slight chance.

To add to the dramatic effects, Hosseini effectively uses many writing styles in the novel. For instance, Hosseini uses variety of sentence lengths to set the mood or make an emphasis. Series of short sentences quickens the reading pace, which helps the readers to feel the underlying tension within the character’s mind. Also, a short sentence on its own naturally draws readers’ attention because of its directness. Without such effects, I do not believe his novel would have been as effective in portraying the characters’ mind state.

The book also owes its success to the characteristics of the narrator, Amir, for being an imperfect, multi-faceted character. Amir, by no doubt, is full of faults; he betrays his friend and, later, he tortures himself with his own guilt. But because of his imperfectness, I found myself becoming fonder of him as I read. While reading, I could sincerely wish Amir to overcome his present troubles. Nevertheless, it was disappointing to see that apart from Amir, important characters such as Hassan or Assef tend to have one-dimensional personalities. I could not help but wonder: how can a person be so loyal or so evil from the beginning and continue to be just as loyal or evil until the end?

Author Biography

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Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini
was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. Because Hosseini’s father was a diplomat working for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, the Hosseini family had to move several times. They lived in Tehran, Kabul, Paris and eventually in the United States as a political asylum. Although Hosseini pursued his career as a doctor, his passion for writing drove him to publish his first novel, The Kite Runner, while he was practicing medicine.

Links

A more detailed biography can be found here.
Khaled Hosseini's homepage