Book review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

January 11, 2008

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Pages: 324

The Kite Runner is the story of a friendship between two boys Afghan boys – Amir, the son of a rich businessman and Hassan, a low-class servant. Although Hassan is obviously mentally and physically superior to Amir he is condemned to a life of illiteracy and servitude to the upper-classes. This is because Hassan is a Hazara, a despised race who are the descendants of Mongols.

Hassan and his father Ali stay as servants in Amir’s house in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Hassan is almost a personal servant to Amir, who enjoys taunting Hassan. Despite being ill-treated Hassan still sticks up for Amir in any fight or confrontation.

While Amir’s father is distant and impossible to please Hassan’s father is loving and understanding. Despite being servants Hassan and his father Ali have a good relationship with Amir’s father. Hassan’s athletic prowess seems to impresse Amir’s father much more than Amir’s short-stories. An envious Amir decides to earn his father’s love and respect by winning the local kite fighting tournament.

Hassan, always the loyal servant, promises to help Amir. After the tournament Hassan promises Amir that he will get him the second last kite in the sky (the most prized one). Hassan manages to catch the kite but runs into some bullies on his way home. The bullies try to steal the kite from Hassan but he fights them three-to-one so he can fulfill his promise. Amir witnesses the entire fight but is too scared to fight alongside his friend. Tortured by guilt over his cowardice, Amir decides that Hassan has to leave. However, Amir’s father refuses to entertain the idea. So Amir betrays his friend and Hassan and his father go away. Soon after war erupts and Amir’s family moves to the United States. The book then follows Amir through his life in America and his return to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to atone for the sins of his childhood.

It is interesting to see Amir evolve from a cowardly sissy into a strong adult who, having atoned for the sins of his childhood, is finally at peace with his past.

The term ‘Kite-runner’ refers to children who try and catch the kites that fall from the sky during a kite-fighting tournament. Kite-fighting is a sport in which opponents try to cut the string of each others kites. The winner of a tournament is the last remaining kite in the sky.

Hosseini does a commendable job with his characters. I was torn between sympathy for both the boys, Amir as he struggles to ovwercome his crippling cowardice and Hassan, who makes immense sacrifices out of love for Amir. The descriptions of Afghan culture and custom are vivid and entertaining. Hosseini’s account of Taliban atrocities and the destruction of Afghanistan is disturbing. This is an interesting book; especially if you are interested in foreign cultures.

2 Responses to “Book review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini”

  1. […] suns is quite a good book. I found it to be much better than Hosseni’s previous book, The Kite Runner,which I read earlier this […]

  2. […] The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini […]

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