29 August 2009

Book review: The kite runner by Khaled Hosseni

Oh, what a book!

The story is starts in the 1970s in Afghanistan and tells the story through the eyes of Amir, the privileged and only son of a rich, widowed, philanthropic landlord. The main crux of the book is Amir's friendship with his servant's son, the devoted and more talented Hassan and his always-under-the-burden-of-expectations relationship with his own Baba. And neither relationship can escape the political upheavals in Afghanistan- first the invasion by Russians and then by the Taliban.

The book is an absolute emotional roller-coaster and one of the best books I have read lately. Hosseni is utterly compelling in his first book (hard to believe considering how well written the book is). The personal relationships between Amir, his Baba and Hassan are beautifully depicted as well and manage to tug at you heart time and again. Interestingly, there are no female leads in the movie and the thankfully, Hosseni does not use the 'love-for-women-changed-the-story' idea (I am tired of how many times poor women are blamed for making or breaking stories).

One of the things that struck me when I read the book was about an unfortunate incident Amir witnesses but doesn't do anything about. I wont give the story away- read for yourself what the incident is but it did leave me thinking for a while. It is interesting how your choice of not doing anything, being mute witnesses to a crime haunt your conscience more than committing the crime itself. Not all of us have the courage to stand up for someone in need and this is the price we pay for it- having a guilty conscience that eats on us for the rest of our life.

Hosseni also manages to present the old-day Afghanistan in a new humane light- one of happiness and peace. It is a shame to read about how power hungry politicians have reduced this once beautiful country to its present-day state of chaos, instability and unhappiness. Mind you, the book doesn't even talk about the plight of Afghan women- I read an article in the Economist about child brides, teen pregnancies and about 80% illiteracy in Afghan women. I still remember the picture of a 11 year old child bride seeing her would-be, well in his 40s husband for the first time on their wedding day (shudder!).

Coming back to the book, this one goes on my 'must read' list. Read it for its mature content, beautiful portrayal of human relationships, Afghanistan and for the emotion than runs throughout the book- hope!

Happy reading,


Priyanka said...

Hey V...quite a nice review on the book that's personally one of my favorites - wud love to hear ur views on Khaled Hosseini's second book "A Thousand Splendid Suns". I'd highly recommend the movie version of The Kite Runner as well...very well directed and does complete justice to the book. Btw, loved the blogs on your Europe travels too....tc.

Vinaya said...

Hey Priyanka, isnt the book a stunner? I really did enjoy that one...will take up the movie recommendation too..tc!

Shamika said...

You have to watch the movie - its the best adaptation of a book - according to me. Also second the recomendation to read "A thousand splendid suns". I loved that one as well.

Which book r u planing to read next? I am *trying really hard* to like Salman Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence :)

Baki kay challay?

Keep reading and blogging!


Vinaya said...

Hey ST,
Looks like I will HAVE TO watch the movie and read Hosseni's second book- they come too highly recommended :D

Baaki just finished reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency...it was a perfect light read after the Kite Runner.

Let me know how you find Enchantress of Florence..have heard some good things about Rushdie's Midnight's Children..have you read that one yet?

Shamika said...

Not a big Rushdie fan - he is too verbose for my taste. Think Enchantress of florence might have to go half-read too just like all his works :)

Aarti said...

Hey..nice review...i"ll try my best to squeeze out some time to read it...

BTW, i m not able to access this blog...most of the times it leaves my explorer window in "not responding" state...thats the reason i wasnt able to follow this blog lately...neways..looks like the prob is solved..