The Kite Runner is the debut novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, the novel was published in 2003. The novel tells the story of two young boys, Amir and Hassan. The story is set against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years.
Let’s get into a detailed review.
Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. His mother passed away as she gave birth to Amir and his father doesn’t give him his due share of respect because he blames him for his wife’s death, moreover he feels his son is not as proactive as he was in his childhood days, which is a big reason why he doesn’t support him in following his passion of writing. Rahim Khan, a loyal friend and business partner of Amir’s father, on the other hand always encourages Amir to write. Amir must win the kite flying competition in Kabul, along with Hassan, to prove himself to his father.
Hassan, Amir’s servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. They always go out and play together, Hassan doesn’t know how to read so Amir reads him various books. Hassan is even regarded as “The Best Kite Runner in Kabul” by Amir.
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. Amir and his father are able to escape to America leaving behind Hassan and his family. 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.
Do Amir and Hassan ever meet again? How is the relationship between Amir and his father? Does he win the kite flying competition? Was Amir able to become a writer? What happens to Hassan? Where does he go after being abandoned by Amir’s family?
We get the answers to all these questions by the end of the book.
Hosseini has written his debut book in a first person narrative, Amir is the narrator of the story, and it must be said that his narration is pretty clear, he very well knows how to deliver his story in such a way that is reaches the readers quite easily. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime, but at no point there is a challenge to understand the situation.
But having said that, their is a limitation in the story here. The Kite Runner is a historical fiction book and generally people read this genre in order to know more about the situation of a city or a country in that particular time period and also enjoy a fictitious story along with it. But the thing with this novel is that it doesn’t give you a very good idea of the turmoil that broke out in Afghanistan. So if you are expecting to learn a lot about the Taliban or the Afghanistan’s monarchy fall, you might be disappointed.
- Amir, like I said, is the narrator of the novel. In the initial stages of the book he is shown as an unlikeable coward who has failed to stand up for the rights of his best friend, Hassan. But towards the ending of the book the readers start to generate some unusual liking for him.
- Hassan is the best friend of Amir. He is a loveable character and you can’t help but just admire his simplicity. He is a person who is not at all complex and knows Amir in and out.
- Assef is the son of a Pashtun father and a German mother, and believes that Pashtuns are superior to Hazaras, although he himself is not a full Pashtun. He lives around the same place where Amir and Hassan live and as a teenager, he is a neighbourhood bully and as an adult he joins Taliban.
- Baba is Amir’s father and a wealthy businessman who aids the community by creating businesses for others and building a new orphanage. He does not endorse the religiosity demanded by the clerics in the religion classes attended by Amir in school.
- Rahim Khan, mentor of Amir, always encourages him to write and even gifted him a leather-bound notebook on his 13th birthday. He is the only one whom you look upto as the most sorted and caring person throughout the book.
In totality, all the characters are very nicely crafted which gives the book even a harder push ahead.
The biggest drawback of The Kite Runner for me is surely going to be the starting of the book. I didn’t really enjoy the book at its initial stages, about first 40-50 pages, they weren’t as appealing to me as the rest of the book. One of my friends also dropped reading the book because of its first couple of chapters, but if you are ready to go through those early chapters then this book is a gem!
Overall Review and Rating
This is truly a heartbreaking story about friendship, love, betrayal, and the possibility of redemption.
I’m going with 4 out of 5 for this book, it is a sure recommendation from my side but just bear with the first few chapters, after that it’s a page turner.