The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed first novel is narrated by Amir, who recalls his privileged childhood as the only child of his wealthy, widowed father. Their relationship is strained, though, Amir believes, because his birth resulted in his mother’s death. Also growing up on the property, but in a mud hut on the grounds, are Ali, a servant, and his son, Hassan. They are members of the oppressed ethnic group, Hazaras, while Amir and his father are members of the dominant Pashtuns. One year younger than Amir, Hassan is both his servant and his closest, most loyal companion. It is Amir’s disloyalty to Hassan, on a day that should have been joyous (winning a kite flying competition) which propels this story of guilt, regret and ultimate redemption.
Flight is a central motif in the story. Like kites, families, too, take flight. First, Hassan and his father leave Kabul, because of Amir. Then, six years later, in 1981, it is Amir and his father’s turn to flee Soviet-occupied Kabul. Relocating to Fremont, Calif., they live in considerably reduced circumstances. Amir perseveres, marries and becomes a successful novelist, with a house in San Francisco. His past returns in a phone call from his father’s best friend, now in Pakistan. The friend offers Amir a “way to be good again,” by coming to the aid of Hassan’s son, Sohrab, enslaved by a Taliban official. The story concludes not tied in a neat bow, but through a harder-won reconciliation that bridges the generations.
For On the Same Page, the Library has purchased the 2004 paperback edition of The Kite Runner, published by Riverhead Books. It is also available at the Library in downloadable eBook and large print formats, and as an unabridged talking book in CD and audiocassette formats. It is also available in the following languages: Chinese, Hebrew and Spanish.
The Kite Runner was named the Penguin/Orange “Reading Group Book of the Year” in 2006, chosen by readers in the United Kingdom from among 60 titles. The author is working on his second novel, which will focus on female characters in pre-Taliban Afghanistan.