Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

[Georgia Porter | Contributing Writer]

The Kite Runner is a gripping and emotional tale of love, betrayal, and redemption. This novel was recommended to me years ago; having read it this summer I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner. I couldn’t put it down!

Khaled Hosseini’s first novel is set in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion. The trauma of war caused by the Taliban has made Afghanistan a difficult setting to create literary fiction. Therefore, its writers’ voices are usually unheard, especially in the West. Hosseini reveals a well-overdue insight into a pre-war Afghanistan, through the lives of two young boys and their families. There was something strangely familiar in the homely description of Amir’s perspective of Kabul before the war created chaos and destruction; this took me by surprise.

Amir – who is twelve and son to a well-loved businessman and widower Baba – and his loyal friend Hassan are obsessed with winning the local kite-fighting tournament, which is a popular past time for the Afghan community. Hassan has promised that he will help Amir achieve this. However, Amir and Hassan’s relationship is a complex one. Hassan is also Amir’s servant, and a member of the abused Hazara minority in Afghanistan.

Neither of the boys foresee a horrifying event which shatters their deep-rooted friendship forever. At the moment Hassan needs Amir the most, Amir betrays him in an act of cowardice. This act of betrayal haunts Amir for the rest of his life.

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When war breaks out, Amir and his father are forced to flee to America. From then on The Kite Runner becomes a quest for Amir – a search for redemption towards his old friend, Hassan. In adulthood, Amir realises that he must return to Afghanistan to face his old mistakes and enemies if he is ever to be free from the ghosts of his past.

This book is heavily descriptive, but never dull. Rapidly occurring life events experienced by Amir, constantly keeps the reader on their toes. These range from ‘normal’ life events such as falling in love, graduating, and achieving a successful career; to exceptional encounters such as fleeing your hometown from war in a petrol tanker. Hosseini skilfully makes Amir’s tale both relatable and extraordinary. After being a silent audience to Amir’s life, the reader forms a kind of attachment to the character that allows us to sympathise with him and feel both his pain and joy. For me this portrays the true mastery of Khaled Hosseini’s writing. It’s powerful and clearly constructed, making it accessible to a wide variety of audiences.

This unforgettable debut novel is one of three books by Khaled Hosseini. If you enjoy this book I highly recommend that you read both A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed.

Have you read any of Hosseini’s work? What did you think? Tweet us @TridentMediaUK.

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Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini