Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

PAPERBACK; 432 P. 
TRANS. ERKKI JUKARAINEN
OTAVA, 2004/2003
SOURCE: PURCHASED

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashums. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

I began reading The Kite Runner without knowing anything about the plot. I have heard several people praise Hosseini’s books saying that he has given a voice to emigrants from Afghanistan as well as the jarring experiences that they’ve gone through. The Kite Runner begins with the story of two little boys who are the bestest of friends. They do everything together, share everything with each other as well as live in the same yard. The only difference is that Amir, the narrator of the book, is a son of a wealthy man, and Hassan is the son of the house servant. This complicates situations because Hassan is also a Hazara, which people see as a race beneath others. As the boys grow up this issue becomes a strain to their relationship and one evening Amir cannot but watch by as a group of boys physically violate his dearest friend.

Aside from the relationship between the two boys – and their fathers – another prominent element in the book is war. The tensions in Afghanistan explode and after first fighting the Soviet armies, the fight turns against fellow countrymen. Amir escapes Afghanistan with his father before the worst comes to worst, and they flee to the land of hope – The United States of America. However, both father and son have a hard time adapting to their new environment and position. The Kite Runner is a touching tale about family, love, and finding your own courage. It was a book that made me want to cry already in the beginning, and I loved how the book explored the main characters through several decades. My only wish is that the book had explored the childhood relationship of Amir and Hassan more.

I read the Finnish translation of the book, and notwithstanding a few mistakes, the writing was incredibly touching. The characters and their pain felt real, and at the same time I learnt much about Afghanistan culture and history. I don’t know how accurate the book is in terms of actual events, but it definitely intrigued me and made me want to learn more. I’d definitely recommend that you read this book if you’re interested in the culture of Middle East or want to read about the emigration experience. I truly hope to read more of Khaled Hosseini’s work in the future.

4/5

For you, a thousand times over.

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  1. I’ve not read this one, but I read A Thousand Splendid Suns and that was a very disturbing but powerful book. I am glad that I read it, but it was definitely one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. I know that I need to read the Kite Runner but I need to be in the right state of mind before picking it up.

    • The Kite Runner does also have some alarming scenes, so it might require a certain state of mind when approached. However, I do think that the power of the story is in the writing, not in the disturbing scenes.

  2. Interesting,I never thought that The Kite Runner could be essentially about the friendship of two boys!
    You should add The God of Small Things to your wish list! 😉

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