Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review - The Kite Runner

Title: The Kite Runner.
Author: Khaled Hosseini.
Publisher: Riverhead Books.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 324.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Blurb: Here.

Disclaimer: Long ultra long post.
I realized it only once I was done! :|

I picked up this book one afternoon after much contemplation as to which book to read next. I guess most of the readers feel the same. The uncertainty of WHAT to read next. There were many who recommended this book, so I thought, Why not?

My Thoughts:
If you are ready to have your heart yanked out and crushed, this book would be the best option. For a  reader who feels the pain and happiness of the  fictional characters as their own, this book is going to be like a Thanksgiving feast!
The Kite Runner is a pragmatic and insightful book set in Afghanistan in the 1960s and almost 3 decades after. The book starts with a time in Afghanistan which we no longer hear about. A time when there was no extremity in religion or customs. A time when people led normal happy lives. A country, prosperous and thriving! 
This, is a tale of  2 boys, Amir and Hassan. Amir, son of a successful broad minded businessman living in one of the better off places in Kabul and Hassan, son of their servant Ali who lives with them. How an ominous day changes the course of their lives forever. Both the boys had lost their mothers. Amir's mother had passed away at childbirth and Hassan's mother had eloped. The fathers were childhood friends too similar to the boys. Amir born a Pashtun - the majority in Afghanistan  and Hassan a Hazara. Hazaras were considered as low class and there was always a discrimination. Amir goes to school while Hassan helps his father with the household chores and is illiterate. However, in many segments its clear that Hassan though the illiterate one, is quite perceptive & observant. The boys have an unique relationship. Hassan dotes on Amir. It says in the book that the first word Hassan uttered when he was a baby/toddler was Amir's name. On the other hand, Amir has a confused state of mind when  considering their friendship. He likes Hassan, however the fact that that he is a Hazara and his servant prevails in Amir's heart. This feeling is also triggered due to Amir's father who gave equal importance to both the boys.
The book is described from Amir's point of view. So the readers get to see through the mind of a 12 year old boy who is insecure, confused, jealous and who yearns for his baba's approval. The depiction of the book, the thoughts going through a young boy was realistic & bitter at times. In many instances I felt that Amir was a coward, but on second thought, he was just a kid with the apprehensions of any confused boy of his age. I felt pity and was perplexed at the events turning out in Amir's life.
Those times,kite running was one of the most celebrated ritual.The deciding of which kite to buy, the strings,the pain of cutting your fingers and the victory were all a big deal then.Amir wanted to impress his father by winning the kite running competition. However, when the time arrives, he gets cold feet and Hassan is the one who motivates him. 
 Amir wins. After the competition,its downhill from there. Something terrible happens to Hassan and is witnessed by Amir. Amir, being the confused and cowardly boy does nothing while the injustice occurs to Hassan. After that fateful day, their friendship drifts apart even though Hassan tries his level best to revive the relationship. So much apart that, both the boys grow up in different continents. The guilt was too much for Amir to take resulting in events, ultimately forcing Ali and Hassan to leave the house for good. The Russians had invaded Kabul forcing Amir and his father to flee to Pakistan and later to America. In California, both father and son start a humble life anew. A life of flea markets, college , love, marriage, Amir being a published writer, the trauma of being childless, death of Amir's father.
Khaled Hosseini, author
Khaled Hosseini, author (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Little does Amir know that his life is never going to be the same when he gets a phone call from Baba's old friend, Amir's well wisher and mentor, Rahim Khan. Amir packs his bags to visit Rahim Khan in Pakistan after listening to him say "there is a way to be good again". In Pakistan, he learns that the Baba, the person who he idolized was after all human,flawed and mortal.The unworthy protagonist later travels back to his home land, which he can barely recognize now . The Talibans crawling all over the place, dilapidated buildings, beggars, beard patrol and the people living in fear. Here, in Kabul he sets out to find the young boy, Sohrab hoping to attain redemption. After an avalanche of events, Amir is united with Sohrab and together they go back to California. There, in a park, in th emidst of  flying a kite, he witnesses a  glimpse of his redemption - A smile. 'For you, a thousand times over'
The language is simple and the author uses his regional language in some places. The emotions come across strong & crystal clear. In some sections, its almost brutal. In some of the segments, it almost felt like an autobiography.
Like Amir, KH is a voracious reader and used to pour over Persian poems.
Like Amir, KH is a writer.
Like Amir, KH moved to the United States.

After reading the book, I had watched the movie. I had this lump in my throat throughout. :( A beautiful book that  is sure to traumatize you emotionally. A book which will remain in the hearts of the readers for a long long time.

My rating:


  1. It is not the physical or the psychological torment of being let down and betrayed by the ones the boy had truly honestly naturally loved and been faithful, that just broke me apart. It is how he knew it and had no complaints, and how it did not change how fondly he felt for the very people who did the most unthinkable crime- of creating a misleading illusion of a non- existing love in the innocent mind of a guardian-less boy who waits for it to fall like water in a parched mouth. That broke me apart.

  2. Yes Poornima,I totaly agree. It broke my heart into a million pieces. I was in tears all along :(

  3. I totally agree with your rating, this one of the best books I have read so far, portrays human emotions in such a diverse way. Explores what we call feelings in a beautifully carved manner. I was touched by the writing style & art the author has. Glad you reviewed the book Ani. :) Take care!

  4. couldn't agree more with you in rating this book with 5 stars ! well deserved one... the book definitely has these raw human emotions expressed in the best possible way a book can.... i almost fell in love with KH after reading this, which only deepened after reading his second one that was, thousand splendid suns . i know, weird it sounds, but i end up having crushes on writers i love to read, like once i was in absolute love with Vikram Seth ;) a fine review of a fine book :) keep writing... i like being on your page !

    1. You are not alone Anica. I have lost count of the authors I have fallen in love with :p
      I still remember I just couldn't get enough of Paulo Coelho at one point of time!
      Thankyou Anica for the encouragement. I appreciate it :)

  5. The last line of the book, "For you A Thousand Times Over" is simply mind-blowing. It sends a chill down your emotions... make you gulp... This is the best book I have read !!!

    1. Oh God! I agree Amrit! I Had to choke back my tears! :(

  6. Khaled Hosseini is one of the finest writter, the kite runner is one of my fav books, which i love to re-read.

  7. This is the first time I am reading your book review and I loved it. Kite Runner is my all time favourite. I pledge I will be your consistent stalker.

  8. The Kite Runner is one of the finest books I have read till now. It has captured the essence of uncertainty of that political atmosphere, and crush of the innocence in it. Simply loved it. Khaled Hosseini is one of the greatest storytellers of current times. You can find all his books on lowest rates here -


Make me a happy bunny, would ya? :D