The Kite Runner

ISBN: 0747588945
ISBN 13: 9780747588948
By: Khaled Hosseini

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Adult Fiction Book Club Contemporary Currently Reading Favourites Fiction Historical Fiction Literature Novels To Read

About this book

Winter, 1975: Afghanistan, a country on the verge of an internal coup. 12-year-old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father, one of the richest merchants in Kabul. He's failed to do so through academia or brawn but the one area they connect is the annual kite fighting tournament.

Reader's Thoughts

Elizabeth

I just remember there was a point when I thought to myself, I don't know if I can continue reading this. I love the portrayal of the relationship between Baba (Arabic for father) and his son. I also think that the fact that the main character is weak, and therefore more human, makes this book extremely touching. It's painful, but you see a little bit of yourself throughout the pages. Unless of course, you are perfect.

Sammy

What a powerful story. I didn't think I was going to like this book as much as I did... but I really did. I got so involved in this book that my emotions were going haywire. Not just feeling happy and sad as you do with most books, but feeling anxious and angry and dissappointed. Everything these characters felt I began to feel. That's definitely the mark of a great novel and a great writer.One thing I think this novel really does is shed light on a situation we really don't know all that much about. It highlights a country we only see in stereotypical clips on the news, skewing our perception and making us think only of one type of world. The Kite Runner puts the world we either never saw or don't see into view. We think of Kabul and Afghanistan only as he writes it in the second half of the novel, most of us have never even thought about it in the way it's portrayed in the first half. And that's how Aghanistan was for the longest time.I think one of the most amazing things about this novel was the friendship between Hassan and Amir. It wasn't what you would think with, "I don't care that he's in another race I'll defend my friend no matter what." It was a real friendship against the odds. He didn't make it cute or fake, Hosseini made it raw and how it would really be in the world where a certain race is persecuted.The characters are also all well-developed and three demensional. Never once did I see a character that was just there to further the story along and then left, without a background or history to them. Every single character gracing that page had a soul and had a past.As usual there's so much more I want to say about this book, but for something this good you'll just have to read it yourself. Trust me, it may sound like something you really don't think you'd care for, but you'll be surprised how much Hosseini's writing and characters pull you in. Soon you'll find yourself very grateful you listened to me and picked up this book. Seriously, this book is worth your time.

Mystique

I have some criticisms for this book, but because I chewed through it in such a short amount of time, I'll start with what I like and move to the criticisms.I did NOT want to like this book. I am one of those annoying people who wants to dislike what everyone else likes, and wants to like what everyone else dislikes. Usually, this works out for me without effort; however, in the world of literature there are occasions that it does not. This was one of those occasions.The book was brutally heartbreaking, but redemptive. Relationships were richly developed, emotions piqued and dropped - hallmarks of a good story. One of my favorite things in literature is learning. If I learn from a book, I consider it valuable. Bite-sized foreign languages lessons will bolster a book's merit. This author taught me about the history, language, and geography of Afghanistan, and about the sport/hobby of kite flying/kite running. I've always thought that a person just bought a kite and flew it. I've never heard of coating the string in cut glass to cut down other kites.The book has numerous other redeeming qualities that are likely to make it a classic read, but it does have some flaws. One thing that just kept annoying me toward the end of the book was the names of John/Thomas and Betty Caldwell. The first time they're mentioned, they're Thomas and Betty Caldwell. The next time, they're John and Betty Caldwell. WELL? Which are they?? Where was the editor on this one? No, it didn't affect the story, and it shouldn't affect me, but it did. I kept finding my thoughts drifting. Because they were never real characters, did the editor/author not find them integral to the plot? Did they have the same issues with Thomases and Johns that I have with Kamals and Kamirs? Perhaps they're unfamiliar with the names, and so it was easy to make the mistake? I admit, I was plagued. I thought about removing a star for it, but we only have 5 stars with which to work, so I didn't.The next flaw is perhaps in my own ignorance, but I can't imagine Assef being in the Taliban. The tale describes him as blonde and blue-eyed. I don't imagine him being part of a hate-group that targets Americans as infidels if he so closely resembles one, but I have also heard that there are blonde and blue-eyed Afghans, so perhaps this is my own ignorance shining through. I have Afghan friends, but none of them has blonde hair, or blue eyes. Further, Assef is absolute evil from an age at which I'm not convinced that any child has such a developed sense of hatred, especially when we consider that, upon meeting his parents, we find them timid. Again, this could be my own ignorance of children outside of my own culture, but it's a bit tough to swallow. I didn't find it too difficult to suspend my belief, but there wasn't too much else in the tale that required such suspension.Overall, the book has all of the ingredients needed to create a great tale - whether or not it required some belief-suspension and some editorial errors. When I complete a book in one sitting, I cannot convince myself that I didn't enjoy it. I must be true to the obvious and give it 5-stars.

Janet

This novel fascinated me. It's a great example of the power of a good story. The author was a rookie, and he didn't yet have a solid command of the craft, but he certainly had something important to say. There are some big spoilers ahead, so if you're planning to read this one, you might want to stop here.I enjoyed the rich portrait of Afghani culture, both at home and in exile in the US. The story's time-frame before and after the Soviet invasion lets an American reader understand better what's been happening behind the headlines of the past thirty years, and I appreciated a glimpse into a world I know little about.The strongest and most memorable part of the book is the character of the narrator's father, Baba. He's a rich, stubborn, secular Afghani who swigs whiskey and makes his own rules. His strengths and flaws propel the entire acr of the story and dominate the narrator's life. What a complex and vivid force! I would teach this book for no other reason than to share Baba with my students. Beyond the father-son relationship, the story is built upon several other important and complicated male relationships. These involve deep, tangled emotional bonds of a sort rarely explored in contemporary American novels. But this is where the story's strength becomes a weakness. The first two-thirds of the novel reads as realism, but in the final act, when the protagonist returns to war-torn Afghanistan, the narrative demands quickly dominate what had been a character-driven story. There are too many coincidences, too many mirrored events, too many father-son doublings, and the bad guys from childhood return as grown-up forces of evil that can only be read allegorically. The symbolic load becomes too heavy for the individual characters to support. I was especially disturbed by the time I was presented with a second victim of child sexual abuse -- the son whose father had been brutally assaulted in the early part of the book. At that point I realized that the story had shifted into a fable of a country/people who had been systematically raped over two generations. This is a valid story and an important one to tell, but within the aesthetic parameters of this particular novel, the allegorical demands at the end almost crush the carefully constructed story about personal atonement. It doesn't help that the author shouts out to the reader several times, "See! The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons!" In the hands of a more experienced writer, realistic and allegorical threads can strengthen one another, but the human story should be primary, with the symbolic motifs worked into the fabric of the story rather than slapped on top.Where are the damn editors these days? I keep stumbling over fiction that is almost, but not quite, done. Half-baked novels are either exposed on mountainsides or rushed to market with massive promotional expense, and the decisions seem completely arbitrary. Why not spend a little more time and money polishing these works first? This fine book from a first-time novelist would have been far more powerful if the final section had been carefully revised. That said, I still think it's well worth reading, and I'm looking forward to watching the film adaptation.

Shannon (Giraffe Days)

This is a largely uncritical review, but I found it to be a beautiful, haunting, powerful tale. The Kite Runner is about a young boy, Amir, growing up in a wealthy part of Kabul, Afghanistan, the only son of a popular entrepenuer, who betrays his best friend and later has a chance to redeem himself. As his father's best friend, Kahim, says, "There's a way to be good again." Amir grows up with Hassan, the Hazara servant boy whose father, Ali, grew up with Amir's father. Hassan's mother left as soon as he was born, and he endured taunts and bullying all his life, especially for being a Hazara, which I've never heard of before but I gather it's like being a Jew in Nazi Germany, only with no money or education. So maybe it's more like the black slaves? Anyway, Amir knows he's a coward, he wants to write stories, not fight back against the likes of local, half-German tough boy Assef, who idolises Hitler. He knows his father is disappointed in him, and is jealous when his dad ("Baba") shows affection and preferential treatment toward Hassan.Hassan is also the best kite runner in the city. The boys play a kite-flying game in winter; the strings are coated in tar and cut glass, and they deftly fly them so that their kite cuts the strings of other boys' kites. The winner is the last kite in the air, and extra kudos to you if you run down the last kite to be cut.Amir wins the kite flying tournament one year, and sends Hassan off after the last cut kite. Hassan, devoted and loyal to Amir, runs off, saying over his shoulder, "For you, a thousand times over." Winning the tournament means everything to Amir, for Baba will love him now. But Amir witnesses something horrible horrible horrible, and does nothing, says nothing. Even when he learns that Hassan knows he saw what happened, Amir does nothing. He chooses his father's attention and love over Hassan. Because Hassan's presence reminds Amir of what happened, he can't stand being around him anymore, and finds a way to get rid of both Hassan and Ali.Amir is a very interesting character. As a boy, aware of his own weaknesses, he is not very likeable, though as a literary character his personality is so well written, his first-person voice edged with a touch of snobby, upper-class arrogance. He is embarrassed by Hassan: while he likes to play with him, when Amir's other friends are around Hassan isn't invited to join in, and Amir never calls him his friend. When Amir is older, he knows that Hassan was the better person, the stronger and braver and kinder, more generous soul. But Amir is just a child, and one with high expectations of himself, let alone his father's.There were many things to love about this book. First of all, it wasn't set in the 50s!! It starts out in the 70s, when Amir is about 12, and follows him through to 2002, about a year after 9/11. It is very eye-opening in regards to Afghanistan, a country where, frankly, very few of us know much about. The Kite Runner reveals how relatively modern their lives were before the Russians entered the scene, and how the Taliban were welcomed at first because they got rid of the Russians. After that, Hosseini is very unforgiving towards the Taliban, and paints a very black picture of them. When Amir has to return from America to Afghanistan, the depictions of the Taliban executing adulterers and threatening people for cheering too loudly at sports events, is frightening. What happens to Amir when he encounters an old foe is even scarier. Yet this is not a morbid book. There is a vein of silver running all through it: hope. The book ends with hope, a small nugget of it, a private, personal hope, but important nonetheless.Hosseini shows the human side of Afghanistan, not the poppy-growing, fanatical side. He paints a picture of Kabul full of Mulberry and pomegranate trees, green grass and playing fields and parks, markets full of the spicy aroma of kabobs, and a tightly-knit community no less family-oriented than the Greeks or Italians. I learnt about some Afghan customs, I even learnt the meaning of some words, like Inshallah ("God willing", if my memory serves me correctly - I don't have the book with me).This is a sad tale, for what was lost and what was - and is - endured, but also a warm one, for the colourful characters, the solidarity, the determination. Ultimately a story of survival and redemption, The Kite Runner was thoroughly enjoyable, a quick, not particularly challenging read, but one that challenges our assumptions and prejudices.

Jamie

Oakland Airport. Finished my last book...what more can I say? Okay, well I feel like a real jackass because I was, honestly, feeling pretty stupid reading this, hence the disclaimer above. It's like when I took the cover off the Da Vinci Code so nobody would know I was really reading it...but, um, holy cow this book was amazing. I was truly never bored, never skipped a passage, hung on every word, loved every character. I cried, really and truly cried during some of the sadder parts (no spoilers--although it was interesting to find Afgans care about the endings of things and there's no such thing as a "spoiler.")I knew nothing of this culture, which is probably sad, but I think I've taken great care to avoid it--I don't watch the news or anything, and I suppose it would be pretty absurd of me to think I've come to grips with the entire middle Eastern situation via a best seller (that's precisely why I hated people's thoughts on The Da Vinci Code--it made people who hadn't read a book in years suddenly want to talk about books, which should be a good thing but the book snob in me felt really offended by this, especially since there are other books, better books on the same subject matter--that book was really fun, I admit it, but seriously, it SUCKED all in all, let's be honest, it was sad to read, like if you had to hear some one with broken English recite The Lady of Shallot or something), but, I digress--anyway, it's just, for me, this was at least a bit enlightening (and I promise I'm not going to start soapboxing at coffee shops and thinking I'm an authority on Afgan culture now), and just...a fantastic read. This was a flawless bit of story telling combined with a really helpful look into a culture that's very much in the public-eye and kind of reassuring, really human sort of approach to providing some insight into a culture I knew nothing about and didn't really intend to research. Now I know I will--this book was a stepping stone and at least got me interested and that's exactly why I love reading and books, because this is what education SHOULD be, you know? You get a taste and then you get running...KITE running....ha ha.Okay, enough, but this book was amazing. I've never wanted to hug a child more than when I read this book. I NEED TO hug a child.

Apoorva

I read this book after it seemed like everyone else around me read it and went on and on about how great it is. It's absolutely one of the most overrated books of all time, right up there with the da vinci code. honestly, i felt i was reading the plot of a (particularly bad) bollywood film the entire time. heavy-handed symbolism, cliches galore, one-dimensional characters, ludicrous situations, melodramatic dialogue, a thoroughly unlikable protagonist, there was no end to the book's flaws. the only reason I'm giving it 2 stars is for the nice details about the bazaars etc he soemetimes put in. if i want that, though, i can just as easily pick up the rough guide to afghanistan, which i bet makes for more intelligent reading.

Tea Jovanović

Ovo je knjiga koja mi je mozda i najdraza od svih koje sam "otkrila" i urednicki potpisala... A bilo ih je zaista mnogo...

Michael

I had serious issues with this book. There might be spoilers below, if you're super-picky. But I'm not going to tell you about how Amir is actually, unbeknownst to the reader, the ghost of the patron saint of Afghanistan the whole time, or anything. Oh, damn.I hated the narrator's guts nearly immediately, and only partially got over that over the course of the novel. I'm fine with narrators I dislike--I LOVE Notes from the Underground, and that guy's the king of skeezes--but only if their voices are interesting enough to counterbalance whatever it is about them I despise.My problem with Amir is that for the boyhood section of the book, he's weak, cowardly, cruel, and dull. He's unapologetic about his really ugly personality, but he also completely fails to take any responsibility for himself. It seemed at times like he was boring himself with his own pettiness. If you're going to be an unpleasant person, I guess, at least take some pride in it. Enjoy your moral decrepitude. Own it. Amir cringes nonstop.Then there were the gratuitous Farsi vocab lessons. No one speaks the way Amir does, first in his native language, then translating for the invisible audience who only knows English. The author used language as a bland condiment instead of allowing for the slightest bit of mystery--part of the book's appeal is that it's about a place and groups of people about which we're woefully ignorant, but I thought allowing for that instead of belaboring every exchange between two Afghani men with explanations for the clueless Americans might have made it a stronger book. I'm OK using context clues once in a while, or wondering what nang and namoos are, besides silly words when I take them out of context.I don't have any complaints about the very moving and human drama that unfolds when Amir goes back to Afghanistan. The story kept me curious enough to keep reading through to the end even when the characters had exasperated me. The parallelism was so heavy-handed, though (GET IT??? His lip was SPLIT IN TWO! That's somehow FAMILIAR!) And I did think Amir managed finally to redeem himself, which is good, because I would have felt a Da Vinci Code sense of betrayal had he not, then thrown the book at the nearest wall.I'm looking forward to the movie. I hadn't realized the same director as Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction was doing it, and I like his work.

Linda

So I started Kite Runner two nights ago after finishing Blink. It took me a week or so with Blink since I wasn’t very enthralled, making it easier to put it down at night when it was my bed time.Kite Runner, I started over a long weekend and could not for the life of me put it down. I was so hooked I even found myself reading Bing’s copy when I was over at Deesh and Bing’s this weekend playing an invigorating (and might I add victorious) game of girls vs. boys Cranium and then Cheez Geek (Cheez Geek one of the 3 new things this week). The Kite Runner. Must be the most disturbing, haunting book I’ve yet to read. The close seconds would be A Child Called It and Night. They both broke my heart but not in the way Kite Runner did. I was in tears maybe four separate times during the past two days it took me to finish the novel. A coming of age story with pre–war Afganhistan and the post-Taliban arrival as the backdrop of the story. I tend to take note of books I know my dad will enjoy and as I read them I jot down notes on post its for my dad and flag the relevant pages. I flagged the story about Amir and Hassen tying bumble bees with string and letting them fly a bit before yanking them back. My dad used to do exactly the same thing to dragonflies when he was younger growing up in Vietnam. Then as I got deeper and deeper into the book and found myself tearing up, I started to doubt whether my dad, a vet would enjoy going down memory lane. I took breaks and called Mary Ellen to relay the story and basically to pull me out a little. Relief. The refugee stories seem to make vivid my parents’ stories post Vietnam. I kept imagining I was reading about my dad. Funny how war is pretty much the same no matter where it is. I usually don’t read war books so this is somewhat new to me. Before Kite Runner, the only books I’ve read with war in the background were Anne Frank’s diary, The Hiding Place, and Night. All heart breaking in their own respect but I never felt so invested in events unfolding with each turn of the page as I did with Kite Runner.So aside from making me cry so easily, Hosseini also managed to make me laugh several times out loud. One scene when Amir, in such a detached manner, thinks to himself as someone is experiencing an eye injury, “Oh that’s vitreous fluid.. I read about that, that’s vitreous fluid.” I used to work for an ophthalmologist. So here are a few quotes I jotted down into my reading journal…“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft..”“If there’s a God out there, then I would hope he has more important things to attend to than my drinking Scotch or eating pork.”“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” “We plucked the stinger off a bee and tied a string around the poor thing and yanked it back every time it took flight.” “John Wayne didn’t really speak Farsi and he wasn’t Iranian.” “And the beggars were mostly children now, thin and grim-faced, some no older than five or six. They sat in the laps of their burque-clad mothers alongside gutters at busy street corners… Hardly any of them sat with an adult male- the war had made fathers a rare commodity in Afghanistan.”“Returning to Kabul was like running into an old, forgotten friend, and seeing that life hadn’t been good to him, that he’d become homeless and destitute.”‘I’m so afraid…. Because I’m so profoundly happy, Dr Rasul. Happiness like this is frightening. They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.” I wrote the last one down because that’s how I feel when I feel very happy. I get extra wary of freak accidents.“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up and slipping away unannounced in t

Msmeemee

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!so, it starts off strong. it almost feels like a biography, that's how real it felt to me. i actually looked on the back of the cover to see if it was based on a true story or something. one thing i noticed off the bat was hosseini's style of writing. it was an extremely easy read. i wasn't sure if this was so it would be accessible to a wider audience or so we could concentrate more on the story rather than the prose or what. what's ironic is that the narrator and protagonist is supposed to be a gifted writer. anyway, the writing wasn't the book's strongest point. honestly, the author of the inner elvis had much better descriptive writing.however, his simplistic writing style didn't take away from the emotions triggered in the story. i was practically bawling at every emotional scene. i have to say, though, that the rape scene, which is the first dramatic scene in the novel, was the best one. i know that sounds horrible, but it's timing and significance was on point. and that's where things kinda went downhill for me. even though i was caught up in the story, things became really cliche. amir and hassan are the two protagonists in the story. amir is the son of baba, a wealthy and admired male widower while hassan is the hare-lipped hazara, people who are regarded as scum of the earth according to afghani history. anyway, hassan and his father, ali, are servants for baba and amir, but they are viewed as family. it's a refreshing departure from what could easily be a cinderlla-type plot.anyway, amir is this really smart, well-educated pansy who can't stand up for himself for shit and hassan always backs him up, even taking on 3 guys on his own. there's a little rivalry between the two boys, with amir constantly testing hassan's loyalty and scoffing at him for seeming to be such a sucker. but when shit turns serious, amir doesn't return the sentiment.the year that amir won a kite flying competition, hassan takes off for the last kite and ends up being cornered by child-sociopath, assef, and his cronies. when hassan refuses to give up the fallen kite, assef rapes him in an alley and amir watches the whole thing from a hiding place because he's too afraid to jump in and protect his friend.as i kept reading, cliches and implausible coincidences start popping up everywhere. it turns out that amir and hassan are half-brothers. (i think i saw that plot-twist in days of our lives once.) when amir goes back to afghanistan to save hassan's now-orphan son, that son is held captive by --guess who?-- none other than assef who has become part of the taliban. the novel climaxes with assef kicking amir's ass. and who saves amir? hassan's son! with a fucking slingshot! (hassan was skilled at that, too.) amir gets reconstructive surgery and ends up with a scar down his lip like hassan had when he had surgery for his hare-lip. good lord. then there was this brief encounter where amir comes across an old homeless guy who just happened to know amir's mother before she died giving birth to amir. how would that ever happen?to be fair, it had a really good storyline. i still maintain that the first third was well executed. the beginning of the book stands its ground well, but that may have just made the rest of the book pale in comparison even more so. it almost felt like the author was desperately reaching for the audience's acceptance (it's his first novel). or he hurried through the rest of the book and needed to increase the tear-jerker factor exponentially by making me cry at every page to cover up the fact that he was running out of quality ideas. on a positive note, it might add more depth to an already mysterious and often feared culture in light of 9/11.but when all is said and done, it's still an interesting read. final word on the kite runner: i can't wait for the movie adaptation. hollywood would eat that shit up.

Zeek

I felt a bit apprehensive picking up The Kite Runner, considering all the buzz about it. (I don't trust overhyped books.) But, thankfully, it lived up to the publicity. The story starts off set in Afghanistan, before the Taliban were in control and even before Russia began their campaign. It could have been set in the deep south of America prior to 1960 for that matter, or in Berlin right around the time Hitler reigned supreme, or perhaps more closely to regency England and colonial India- the climate is the same. Two little boys, one rich Pashtun, one of the servant class Hazara, two litle boys who shouldn't care about each other, yet they are friends- or as close to it as two opposing classes can be.My favorite stories are the ones that delve into the issues that darken a good man's soul. I love watching characters work their way to salvation. Some who didn't like TKR, say that Amir, the narrator and main character, is too selfish to be likable. And it's true, in the beginning, he is a bit selfish- he is not a nice little boy at times. In fact, his selfishness hits a low point when he sees his best friend, a servant boy named Hassan who is as close to him as a brother, viciously attacked- and stands by doing nothing to stop it. (It was a tough thing to observe as a reader!)Still, I believe in hanging with a character to see where the author takes them. Hosseini did a fine job of rescuing Amir, in my eyes. The hero's guilt-ridden conscience is what proves to me that he is in fact redeemable, after such an act of reprehensible cowardice. If Amir had moved on without a glance back, I would have thrown the book at the wall and not finished it.Thankfully I didn't have to. Eventually Amir grows to manhood, moves to America though not knowing what happened to his old friend (and too guilty to think about it), he marries, becomes a successful writer and, through it all, never lets himself find the forgiveness his soul so desperately wants. Don't fret, Amir gets the chance to go back to his homeland and make things right. And he does so in a way that broke my heart. (The last scenes had me in tears!!)Other criticisms for this book have said that it's too clichéd, too made for movieland. I have to agree, at times it was predictable- the "big twist" I saw coming a mile away, and I frankly wanted to shake Amir for not seeing it as soon as I did! All I've got to say is, what's so wrong with that?!Ok, I'll also agree with some other naysayers that say some of the plot resolutions for the characters were a tad convenient. But I seriously didn't notice it until I thought about it later- and read some of the reviews. I think I so wanted this to have a happy ending, I just went along with it.Anyway, despite the fact that I'm in agreement on some of these issues,(a bit, just a bit), I think the good far outweighs the bad. This is the kind of tale that sticks with you, the kind that I obsess over, much like I did when I first got a hold of Les Miserables. In FACT, much of what I adore about Les Miz is in this one. (And the author references Les Miz briefly just to prove the point!) Both the stories share the search for the balance of justice and mercy, of familial love and hate, and also finding forgiveness and the strength to pick ourselves up when we find our faces in the mud of guilt and shame.TKR is not a romance, but it is a love story. A love story between fathers and sons, and those we call brothers- of the heart, if not blood. Their story touches on the complexities of familial love and accurately shows that, at times, we can love and hate those we feel the closest too.Highly recommend this one!

Jackie Gill

** spoiler alert ** I must admit that although I had heard plenty of people mention The Kite Runner, I hadn’t actually paid much attention to what was said about it other than, “It was wonderful!” So, a few days ago and several years after the book came out, I heard a couple of people discussing the “wonderful” book I decided to read it.The first day, I read about a third of the novel (Hassan is raped, Amir feels bad, well sort of, he feels bad that Hassan is raped yes, but even worse because Hassan’s rape makes him feel bad and, of course, this means he needs to act badly and do bad things, and make more bad stuff happen to Hassan who is not bad at all.) And, I will admit that this portion of the book had me reading as quickly as I could. I flipped from one page to the next, skimmed over the plethora of annoyances, oops, I mean I skimmed over the Farsi vocab sprinkled evenly throughout to, of course, add authenticity and give it that multicultural feel that is sure to make every publisher drool over a manuscript, and I was even forgiving of the somewhat poor writing. Yes, on day one, I liked The Kite Runner. I was into The Kite Runner. And when I decided to continue my read the next day – I had high hopes!The second day, I read to the point where Amir gets a phone call from a man he has not seen in years, abandons his “perfect life” in America (well, almost perfect, there is the infertility and the gap that his wife’s uterus is forming between them, but their sex life is still good – sometimes… WHAT!? Never mind…) so, anyway, Amir hops on a plane to Afghanistan which is being ruled by the Taliban, yet he enters without issue, and follows the yellow brick road and lands at OZ where it turns out that the man behind the glasses is not John Lennon at all – he is Assef – his childhood nemesis, pedophile, and just plain evil guy (and you know he is evil cause he likes Hitler – although he has never heard of ethic cleansing). So, Amir walks right into the Taliban compound and asks to see the wizard, I mean their leader, and is allowed to do so (actually it was more difficult for Dorothy to get in to see the wizard, she should have taken Amir with her) and when he gets in, we find out that Hassan’s son is made to dress like a monkey - GET IT A MONKEY – ya know like the monkey that Amir and Hassan would go see (too bad it wasn’t a flying monkey) – and provide entertainment for the Taliban, and provide sexual services for Assef – the same guy that had sex with Hassan and, now the obviously simple minded reader that Hosseini wrote for, says, “that is so weird the way that all happened, wow, I cant believe the way this is all coming together, this is sooooooo fascinating!” Oh, and for the thinking reader with any literary competence who MAY think that this is too much of a coincidence, don’t be so critical; this issue was already addressed when Amir ran into a beggar that happened to have taught with (and remembered doing so) Amir’s mother. We, the readers, are clearly TOLD that coincidence is VERY common in Afghanistan. Therefore, if the rest of the story seems too contrived, don’t worry, it is realistic for Afghanistan. So, don’t question it, cause he is the expert on Afghanistan and you (the reader) are not, therefore, just accept that this completely ridiculous, unrealistic, obviously contrived series of events, are very realistic in Afghanistan!My third day of reading, I completed the book and instead of placing my hand over my heart, smiling, and thinking about how wonderful the book was, how beautiful the story was, and how it all came so nicely together in the end (apparently the reaction of the masses), I was mad. I was mad because there are so many people out there who think a book this ridiculous and obvious is brilliant. I was mad because this is precisely what is wrong with some multicultural literature and what gives multicultural literature a bad name. There are many pieces out there which are actually beautifully written, provide valuable insight into other cultures, and entertain the reader (i.e. Reading Lolita in Tehran), however, it does nothing for multicultural literature to publish pieces that are poorly written and filled with cliché. I can forgive (to a certain extent) poorer writing when the story is written as a true account and when the purpose of the novel to re-tell actual events. However, when an author decides he is going to write a piece of fiction, his style, diction, and storyline come into question. The final portion of the novel continues throwing out one cliché after another, and throws out one ridiculous coincidence after another. Just the fact that a good portion of the middle of the book was dedicated to pounding it into the readers head that Amir and Soraya could not have children and did not want to adopt, well, that is unless the bloodline is known, is enough to clue the reader in that they will adopt Sohrab waaaay before Amir even knows that he will adopt Sohrab. What a coincidence that Hassan just happened to be his half brother, happened to have a son, and the son happened to have been taken by Assef. And it was even more convenient that even from the grave, once again, Hassan could save Amir. He could provide him with a son and the opportunity to finally fight the big bully who STILL carried his brass knuckles. And more convenient yet, the fact that Sohrab always carried that slingshot (And in case we forgot that he always carried it, Amir remembered for us, as if Hosseini wants to say: see readers how clever I am, I set it up that Sohrab always had the slingshot, and now later in the story, it comes back out. See how clever I am readers, everything in my story has a purpose and is connected). However, what Hosseini needed to do is explain how a kid who has been taken from an orphanage, made to dress and entertain like a monkey, lives with the Taliban, and is a sex slave for the Big Bad Assef, still managed to keep his slingshot – the very weapon used against Assef in the past, and the very weapon that Assef has an issue with! Just how dumb must a reader be to believe that the freakin Taliban NEVER NOTICED!? So, okay, Sohrab saves Amir, they escape and the Taliban does nothing, and then another freaking coincidence – Amir will end up with a scar. And in case the reader does not deduce that Amir will have a scar from his busted lip, the doctor points it out and confirms it. Yes, reader, a scar like Hassan’s – get it? It’s connected – get it?Truth be told, there are so many unbelievable incidents and ridiculous coincidences presented to us in this book that it would take pages to go through them all because they were present from beginning to end: The young Russian soldier who doesn’t shoot Baba and the older Russian soldier who apologizes for him and talks about the young soldiers – YEAH RIGHT! The fact that Amir is an author who is published right away and cranks out novel after novel with great success – YEAH RIGHT! Baba dies of lung cancer and then Rahim Khan seems to have to same issue – does Hosseini think all people who die of natural causes die of lung issues? Raymond Andrews who has a bad attitude because his kid committed suicide, and then the receptionist actually tells Amir that this happened – the way this came out seemed completely fake and contrived because – IT WOULDN’T HAPPEN! Then, of course, Sohrab tries to kill himself, so now we know why Andrews kid had to commit suicide – we needed one more obvious instance of foreshadowing. It is also a little odd how often Amir throws out how he knows about medicine because he is a writer – WHAT? I didn’t know I needed to seek out an author when I was sick. And so on and so on…But one final point that I would like to make is that as soon as Amir picked up a kite it seemed that, much like Jesus, his hands began to bleed; therefore, I am left to wonder: why didn’t Amir know about the invent of gloves? Perhaps that is the biggest tragedy of it all. By the way, I am still giving the novel two stars because there is an interesting story in there, and the glimpse into Afghanistan is valuable. It is just that the author did such a poor job of presenting the story that it actually detracts from the positive aspects of the book and makes the validity of his glimpse into Afghanistan quite questionable. Therefore, my two stars are for the possibilities that could have been if it had been written by a talented author.

Dimah Kabbani

الطائفية مقيتة قاتلة ، أسلوب خالد حسيني جميل جداً، هزّ مشاعري  للغاية و جعلني أبكي مع كلّ كلمة خطّها في هذا الكتاب الجميل .. عداء الطائرة الورقية حقّاً تجعل كلّ ما قرأته قبلها فراغاً ..لا أعلم مالذي يجعل لإنسانٍ خاصةً الاطفال أي نوع من الأفضلية على إنسان آخر فقط لأجل الطائفة أو العرق أو الدين ، نحن الذين قال رسولنا"لا فضل لعربي على أعجمي إلا بالتقوى" .. حزنت على أفغانستان ، و حزنت على سوريا فحالها أشبه بحال أفغانستان أكثر من اي وقت مضى، و أرجو ربي أن يبعد الفتنة عنّا .. أرجوك يا ربي أنزل السكينة و المحبة في قلوبنا و أبعد عنا الفتن ..كتاب جميل يستأهل النجمات الخمس بكل جدارة و أنصح الجميع بقراءته فهو  يصنّف ضمن قائمة الكتب "العصيّة على النسيان" بعض الاقتباسات التي استرعت اهتمامي :" حدث هذا منذ زمن طويل ، لكنهم مخطئون فيما قالوه عن الماضي لقد تعلمت كيف أدفنه ، لكنه يجد دائماً طريق عودته " .." لن تتعلم شيئاً ذي قيمة من أولئك الحمقى ذوي اللحى ، حاملي الحق في جيوبهم ، لا يعرفون إلا الصلاة بمسابح يحركونها بإبهامهم ،  و قراءة كتب بلغة لا يفهمونها حتى ..فليرحمنا الله جميعاً اذا ما وقعت أفغانستان بين أيديهم ..." ...فليرحمنا الله ايضاً إذا ما وقعت سوريا بين أيديهم .. :("هنالك خطيئة ، خطيئة واحدة فقط هي السرقة ،و كل خطيئة أخرى هي وجه آخر للسرقة ،عندما تقتل رجلاً فأنت تسرق حياةً ، تسرق حقّ زوجة بزوج ،من أطفاله تسرق أباهم ..عندما تكذب تسرق حق شخص بالحقيقة ، عندما تغش تسرق حق العدالة ..""من الأفضل أن تؤلمك الحقيقة من أن تضحك على نفسك بالكذب ""شعرت بالذل من موقف القوة الذي حصلت عليه ،و ذلك بسبب أني ربحت يا نصيب الجينات الذي حدد جنسي" 

Matt

i really wanted to like this novel. judging from its thousands of 'five-star reviews' hailing it as the one of the 'best books ever written,' i'm in the minority when i state that this novel, while well-intentioned, just left a little bit of sour taste in my mouth. my problems with the novel are as follows: first of all the writing itself is so ham-fistened, heavy-handed, distracting and otherwise puzzling that by the midway point, i seriously considered chucking the book against the wall. each page of the novel has at least 5-10 incomplete sentences. i'm all for experimental and fractered prose--but it's important for authors to use it judiciously. hosseini, unfortunately, beats it to death. a lot of his language is cliched, too, which is funny considering there's a passage in the book about a writing teacher who warns the narrator, amir, about using cliches. i don't know if that was supposed to be funny or not, but it made me laugh (and what was worse was the san francisco's chronicle's glowing review on the book's cover and the san francisco chronicle's glowing review of amir's novel--coincidence?). the author's use of farsi--especially in the dialogue--was equally distracting. my point is that no one speaks the way his characters speak. people don't switch back and forth between languages while speaking, and if they do, they certainly don't speak 1/2 the sentence in english, say one word in farsi, then traslate the farsi word to english, then finish the sentence in english, when they're presumably speaking farsi to begin with. i didn't pick up this book for a crash course in colloquial farsi. after 370 pages, i was frustrated--and annoyed. hosseini's plot often borders on the ridiculous. the'twists' are just TOO coincidental--and not surprising at all (except in how contrived they are). for example, in a devasted kabul, amir sees a homeless man in the street. the homeless man, of course, was a former university professor who just happened to teach with amir's long deceased mother. what a coincidence! what makes it worse, is that the narrator, amir then explains that while that may, in fact, seem like a coincidence, it happens in afghanistan happens all the time. of course it does. in another example, amir's former nemesis, assaf (now a taliban crony), beats up amir and amir ends up with a scar above his lip, just like his dear friend hassan, who was born with cleft-pallet. oh, the coincidence! (and the fact that amir even runs into assef again is ridiculous). another example: amir and his wife aren't able to have children, and of course they find an orphan boy who happens to be extended family and they adopt him. what a coincidence! and after amir returns to afghanistan he doesn't call home to his dutiful wife for over a month. i kept wondering 'when's he gonna call home?' and any plot advanced by a series of 'tragedies,' (and in this book they are legion) shows little more than the writer's inability to craft a meaningful and interesting plot. not only is it pretty poor form, it's also highly manipulative and condescending. i found myself continually frustrated by hosseini's apparent distrust of the reader. we don't have to be told how and when to interpret metaphors. and if i read one more book where the protagonist is a writer or professor, i'm gonna ram my head into a metal post. i don't want to sound like a misanthrope or jaded literature reader because i'm certainly not. this novel just left me wanting so much more in terms of plot and characterization. having said that, however, the novel could be important in that shows the cruelty of the taliban. much of what hosseini writes about is important, especially for us westerners unfamiliar with the breadth and scope of the afghani tragedy. in the end, it was worth the $2.00 i paid for it.

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