Book Review: The Kite Runner

The first question I tend to ask myself when reading a book is,

“What special significance does the title have?” 

Note that Amir the main character was a Kite FIGHTER. Hassan his servant on the other hand was a Kite RUNNER, and a pivotal moment in the book which changed everything and set things in motion like a domino effect occurred when Hassan chased after a kite to retrieve it for Amir.

Hence, just from the choice of title we can infer that much of the plot centers around Hassan and in turn he helps shape the course of the book significantly directly as well as indirectly.

This is later evinced when Amir relates how his guilt has been haunting him owing to the way he treated Hassan even though he had full knowledge about the lengths Hassan had gone to help him.

Alternatively, Khaled Hosseini picked the title because he had heard that the Taliban had banned kite fighting in Afghanistan which to him felt like a grave and esp. cruel injustice which had more to do with exerting power to prove a point than anything else.

By the same token, Amir initially set out to win the prestigious kite fighting tournament in order to make his father proud of him. If you observe carefully, you’ll find that there was unhealthy sibling rivalry between Hassan & Amir from the start, mostly due to the way Amir behaved- which had a lot to do with his constant urge to prove himself worthy to his father.

To exemplify this point, call to mind when Amir exploits the fact that Hassan is illiterate and teaches him incorrect meanings of words. Later he feels the action weighing his conscience down and decides to give Hassan a pity “shirt” or two to make things even.

The book comes full cycle when at the very end Sohrab shoots Assef in the eye with the help of his trusty slingshot as Hassan had threatened to do many years earlier. This element of cyclic structure is further explored when Amir chases a kite down for Sohrab just like Hassan had done for him in the past even going so far as to invoke Hassan’s pledge of loyalty in A Severus Snape-esque manner, “For You A Thousand Times Over.”

With that being said, it is important to highlight Amir’s dream of being a writer. While this was not exclusively encouraged by his father early in his life, Rahim Khan his father’s friend always remembered to leave a good remark or two to encourage him. Also, Hassan would listen to him and was witty enough to spot a plot hole.

Stories of heroism play a big role in the childhood of the two brothers -Hassan & Amir- would often sit below a pomegranate tree and read from “The Epic Of The Kings”. Their favorite story was none other than Rustem & Sohrab which narrates the tragic tale of a father who unwittingly kills his son before finding out the truth during the dying breaths of the young warrior.

On the Pomegranate tree the dynamic duo carved “Amir & Hassan the sultans of Kabul.” I am of the opinion that this is a symbol which denotes how hazzarahs and pashtuns are capable of getting along and peacefully co-existing.

Other than that the way Amir dealt with Soraya’s past is commendable. In our tradition if a girl has a “past”, the social stigma in itself is enough to convince her that there is no hope of redemption. Hats off to Amir for being more accepting than the quintessential man from the east.

In the same fashion, Amir’s father stands up to the Russian man who demands tribute in terms of another man’s wife during the exodus from Kabul. “War doesn’t negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.” – Baba He risks his own life to safeguard the women in the vehicle which just goes to show his principles put to practice.

 

On the flip side, one plot hole I cannot reconcile myself with was that Assef the leader of the Taliban squad is homosexual. Technically, he should have been stoned to death by his own second in command. It’s harder to suspend my disbelief and find verisimilitude when Hosseini does something unbelievable like that. That said, there was enough local color to lure in people from other cultures and expose them to an exotic Afghanistan and all the potential it had pre-USSR and Taliban.

Keeping all of this in mind, I highly suggest all bibliophiles to collect a copy at the nearest bookstore and assimilate the ideas and themes of this book. Happy reading!

~Abrar (Ruminator)

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The Kite Runner Review, By Mark Bartholomew

There’s no doubt that ‘The Kite Runner’ is a great story, especially because it was Khaled Hosseini’s first novel – indeed, first publication of any form of writing. He can weave a mesmerising tale that keeps the reader turning the pages long after s/he wanted to turn in for the night and get some well-deserved sleep. The descriptions of the children’s lives in Kabul before the Taliban took over are so evocative that you can almost imagine being there with them. He manages this because there is enough about the lads that is universally recognisable – they could be living next door to us in Dhaka – that we easily get into other material that we might never have heard of before: like the kite running competition.

However, as the novel progresses, the action speeds up and becomes a roller coaster ride of adventures that is sometimes hard to believe. We wonder whether such things can really happen! And there is simply too much action; there are too many characters that have little to do with the main plot. This doesn’t allow Hosseini to explore their personalities and so the story seems to lack something. Do we know enough about them really to care about their fates?

So, I enjoyed the novel. It kept me turning the pages. I didn’t cast it aside. But, as Hosseini matured as a writer – say with ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ – he got better at his craft and his stories are more well-rounded. There are not so many loose ends and we believe in and care more about his characters.


NOTE: I hope the title is self-explanatory. Mark does not have a wordpress account, so I am posting this on his behalf. Another one for our #Read_Of_The_Month challenge for March

The Story of their Life

tumblr_static_9wfqrop3ykw8cg8o0kw4844ocThe Kite Runner. This book was something that changed my perspective on everything in life. I never thought that a book will have such a big impact on me. I just finished it two months ago. I have read hundreds of books in my life. But this one, it’s something different. Though I don’t have the book right now with me, still I go through particular PDFs of the book every night before I sleep.
The story introduced me to a whole new world of Afghan life-their sacrifices,the war, the brotherhood and the “kite fighting tournament.”

“For you, a thousand times over.”

It is a story about friendship,loyalty,betrayal,guilt,brotherhood,redemption, survival and religion too, yeah religion, the relation of Sunnis and Shias.

“When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal a wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. There is no act more wretched than stealing.”

The story of Amir, and his Hazara friend Hassan. The hard choices that comes in front of Amir. I think that the character who tolerates the most pain in this book is Amir. In such a young age, he has to undergo through so many hard decisions. In such a young age, he enters the cruel game of Life. The book doesn’t fail to leave any heart untouched and allows us to recognize the emotions that are hidden inside us.

“I throw my makeshift jai-namaz, my prayer rug, on the floor and I get on my knees, lower my forehead to the ground, my tears soaking through the sheet. I bow to the west. Then I remember I haven’t prayed for over fifteen years. I have long forgotten the words. But it doesn’t matter, I will utter those few words I still remember: La illaha ila Allah, Muhammad u rasul ullah. There’s no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger. I see now that Baba was wrong, there’s a God, there always had been.

The best thing about the book is its sense of fate and justice. Despite all odds, Amir does return to his motherland and makes everything alright. He sees the reflection of Hassan in Sohrab’s face. A “Smile”, a smile was all that sat everything back in its place.

Only a smile.

P.S- I have left the story-telling part incomplete, because I request everyone who haven’t read the book but went through the review to read it. The story-telling will not be possible anyways, cause it will get too long in the telling. 😛

The Kite Runner

“It’s a sad story.”

“Sad stories make good books,” she said.

~The Kite Runner

I’ve had the honor, more than once, of being recommended a book that devasted the one who recommended it. It tore their heart out, stomped on it till it was broken beyond repair, and they came out, handed the book to me. The Kite Runner was one of these many.

I read it at an unlikely time. The O Level mocks were going on, and I was supposed to be studying all day. But nothing breaks the bleakness of routine better than a book.

I’ll try my best to not fill this with spoilers, because:

  1. I don’t want to, and
  2. If you haven’t read it, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I try and imagine the situation in Kabul, around the time when they had to flee. It must have been something like that for the refugees who fled to and from India during the India-Pakistan split. That must’ve been the situation during, after and before the Liberation War in 1971. We, the kids of this generation have been spared the horrors of war.

I try to imagine myself as Amir, and I shudder when I realise that my choices would probably be the same as his. I feel cowardly when I do, but how far would we honestly be willing to go if we spent our whole lives bundled up in safety, just for the sake of friendship?

The Kite Runner is not an epic like LOTR. We don’t get a bunch of characters who embody all the different messages portrayed. But we do have a few characters who embody all of the lessons portrayed, and this brings me to wonder again, the way Eragon did, if knowledge that was narrow and deep was better than knowledge that was wide and shallow.

It is much more than just a story. It is much more than just tragedy and guilt and redemption. And to each one of us it means something different, but it embodies everything we know about childhoods lost and innocence murdered. It represents how unfair life seems, yet how beautiful it can be. If we just flew the kite the right way.

I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn’t care. I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips.

I ran.