Title: The Kite Runner
Author & Narrator: Khaled Hosseini
Publication Year: 2003
Pages: 400 (audio length: 12 hours 2 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan’s decent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan’s father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.
This fragile idyll is broken by the mounting ethnic, religious, and political tensions that begin to tear Afghanistan apart. An unspeakable assault on Hassan by a gang of local boys tears the friends apart; Amir has witnessed his friend’s torment, but is too afraid to intercede. Plunged into self-loathing, Amir conspires to have Hassan and his father turned out of the household.
When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to San Francisco, leaving Hassan and his father to a pitiless fate. Only years later will Amir have an opportunity to redeem himself by returning to Afghanistan to begin to repay the debt long owed to the man who should have been his brother.
Compelling, heartrending, and etched with details of a history never before told in fiction, The Kite Runner is a story of the ways in which we’re damned by our moral failures, and of the extravagant cost of redemption.
Yet again, I can’t believe that I never got around to reading a book for so long.
For most of the time that I was listening to The Kite Runner, I was absolutely speechless. The writing was beautiful and the characters were complex. And the plot! Oh, the plot … it was heart-wrenching. And soulful. And uplifting. And all of that is probably the understatement of the century.
Part of me found the narrator, Amir, to be a bit irritating at times. Largely, I felt like that when he did something that just seemed wrong – and then I had to remind myself to take a step back and realize that he was narrating events that happened when he was a child. Once I could wrap my head around the fact that he was telling the entire story from the point of view of his adult self, I couldn’t get enough of the story, even in places where it made me cringe.
I really wish that I could’ve seen some of the story from Hassan’s point of view. There was so much that happened “off-screen” that the reader had to infer, or that wasn’t shown or explained whatsoever. While I understand that these things weren’t able to be known because of who the narrator was, I still wanted to know! And I think that’s part of what the appeal was for this book … it kept me wanting to know more and wanting to understand everything about everyone and every situation that happened.
The religion aspect of this book was pretty subtle. There was mention once in a while of the difference between the Sunnis and Shias (particularly in reference to Hassan and other Hazaras), a bit about the Taliban through the middle and especially the end of the book, when the story reached the time period where they came into power, and a bit of talk about the personal religious values and practices of various characters from time to time. It wasn’t really that central of an idea to the novel, but it did come into play in appropriate and interesting ways.
Also, I really loved the way that the author narrated the audiobook version. Author narrations don’t always work, but in this case, it definitely did. Hosseini’s accent and proper pronunciation of Afghan words really made everything pop out and feel more realistic.
If you, like me until recently, have never read The Kite Runner – do it now! Now, I tell you!
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.