Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Kite Runner

Continuing my aim to read widely, and to read good quality books, I finally read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Amazing! This story was so touching. I was sitting on the train, crying, this week whilst reading this book. The characters were brilliant. The pace was excellent. The narration was terrific.

The Kite Runner taught me a lot about Afghanistan. I had not heard much about life prior to the Soviet invasion of the country. I didn't realise that it was quite progressive, and could be quite an advanced country, if it wasn't for the various wars that have ravaged the country for the last thirty years. It also makes me wonder why Afghanistan became a nest for terrorists who hate America. They should hate communists and the Taliban. Maybe there is a lack of education and perspective in the last two generations. Amir's generation certainly saw a better Afghanistan and knew who the real enemy was. However, the man who later helps Amir to get back into Afghanistan does scoff at Amir's view of Afghanistan, saying he never lived in the real Afghanistan, because his father was wealthy.

It is a story of suffering. Every character suffers. Sohrab's suffering is the most poignant, because the book ends with his emotional turmoil. Amir suffered for his own guilt. Hassan probably suffered the most, though. His chance of happiness was taken away so early in his life, he was raped, and later shot in the prime of his life. He was helpless. Sohrab, although he probably saw his parents shot, and was also raped, at least had a chance at life.

The book also explained the relationship between the Pashtuns and the Hazaras, and the Sunni and Shi'as. Previously, I knew there was a division between these sects of Islam, but I was pretty oblivious really. Even with all the news about Iraq, which broadcast more about this division than any broadcasts about Afghanistan ever has.

Baba was a hard man. He was very set in his ways. He couldn't cope once he got to America. He was a hard worker, and always kept his entrepreneurial spirit which was displayed through his market stall. But, like so many first generation immigrants, he struggled with the language and he struggled with the way of life. He relied more on his son, and because he finally saw his son doing well, I think he softened to him and allowed himself to show his love. Finding out that Hassan was Baba's bastard son certainly did change my view of Baba. Hassan was his favourite, whilst they lived in Afghanistan. His heart must have been torn when Hassan left, and he would never have heard of him again.

Amir was not a hateful person. He thought of himself as a coward. He gave into his fear, but ultimately, he wasn't a coward. He was so ashamed of himself that he took it out on the true victim - Hassan. He was angry at himself, and in way, he was punishing himself by refusing himself Hassan's friendship. He continued to hurt Hassan, which made his guilt worse, in a continuing downward spiral.

On the front cover, Isabel Allende is quoted as saying "Unforgettable ... extraordinary. It is so powerful that for a long time after, everything I read seemed bland". I agree, wholeheartedly. The next book I'll read will be by Isabel Allende

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