The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is an emotional and immersive story of friendship that is amplified with its spotlight on society and culture within Afganistan – both past and present. The story relates to the lives of two boys, Amir and Hassan, growing up in Kabul and narrated through the eyes of Amir. There are major societal and lifestyle differences between them but it is the character and principles of the two boys that defines this literary classic. Amir is the son of a rich man, he is educated, refined, and most importantly for social standing, part of the Sunni ruling class. Hassan is the son of the household servant and is illiterate, physically robust, but unfortunately for him, part of the Shia lower class. At a young age, the two boys probably saw each other as play-friends, rather than the additional baggage/benefits their class positions bestow on them. However, as children grow up they inherently know where power resides and it doesn’t take long for Amir to recognise his family’s dominance and Hassan’s family servitude.
Following an incident where Hassan suffers physically and psychologically in protecting Amir, it leaves Amir with an unshakeable sense of guilt and culpability that manifests itself in a resentful disposition towards Hassan. Hassan suffers twice for being a better friend. The class system plays its part but the cowardice of Amir clings to his memories and will haunt him throughout his life. The writing flows wonderfully and the story is so imperceptibly built to capture emotions and our sentiments of injustice.
Years after Amir immigrated to the United States he returns with the hope of righting some of these wrongs and seeking redemption with Hassan. Since Amir was last in Afghanistan the Taliban are now in control of the state – including government and religion. The country Amir knew now feels alien as he experiences the emotional horrors and fear of life under the Taliban. They are also dangerous times where the outward display of appearance and loyalty are crucial not to fall foul of the authorities.
This is a really superb book on so many levels – the history, location, religion, social culture, character interaction and it’s ultimately dealing with human emotions of friendship and guilt. I would highly recommend reading this book. In fact, it’s a must-read!