Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The Kite Runner
I'd heard about this book by Khaled Hosseini - albeit for the reason that it was a very disturbing story about Afghanistan and I somehow wasn't interested in reading it. It was on a recent trip that I saw a Borders bookshop. I've had an affliction since childhood that I can't pass a bookstore without walking into it and having a look at the books, reading blurbs and etc etc. Since a recent financial upgrade in life, I was tempted to buy a book and I settled upon this and the other book by the author - A 1000 Splendid Suns.
Amir and Haasan are friends in the deeply feudalistic society of Afghansitan. Amir is a boy who craves for attention from his father. He is disappointed that he is not what his father expects him to be - an aggressive, proactive leader of men. While disappointed that he is not upto his father's liking, Amir finds it irritating to find their servant's son Haasan being liked by his father. Haasan has had a bad familial background where his mother had eloped with a group of gypsies as soon Haasan was born. Amir is a budding story writer, which is despised by his 'baba'. In this while, his only solace is Rahim Khan, his 'baba's business partner who encourages him to continue writing.
Amir and Haasan share a passion - kites. Amir is a good kite fighter, while Haasan is a Kite Runner nonpareil. In one of the annual kite flying competitions, Amir, determined to prove his worth to his father, cuts the last of the flying kites and emerges winner and when Haasan tries to run the kite for Amir, gets sexually assaulted by Aseef (a Nazi sympathizer and who is a bully). Amir gets to see this, but out of fear for his own safety, doesn't do anything to prevent it. Haasan doesn't talk about his plight to Amir or any of his family members, but goes into a shell. Amir is guilt-ridden and plots a scheme to drive Hassan and his father out of the house, in which he succeeds.
Afghanistan is torn apart by successive political meltdowns and Amir and his dad leave behind all their material possessions back in Kabul and take flight to San Francisco - where Amir becomes a successful writer, his 'baba' dies and he marries Soraya, an Afghan girl with previous 'history'. While life goes on for the couple (they are diagnosed with unexplainable infertility), Amir gets a call from Rahim Khan from Pakistan asking him to come over as there was a task for him.
Amir goes to Pakistan learns what happened to Haassan and his son, and lo behold, learns a truth which shatters his image of 'baba', Hassan and himself. He goes back to the Taliban controlled Afghanistan to rescue Hassan's son and adopts him as his own.
The last line in the book, where Amir says to Sohrab (Hassan's son), "For you, a thousand times over" - the same line which Hassan tells to Amir before he goes to run the kite on the fateful day, is sure to strike an emotional chord in you.
The first part of the book is excellent - Amir's childhood and his adventures with Hassan - beautifully described. The second half feels cinematic and a bit over-dramatic. The author's projection of Amir and his moral dilemma is so realistic, that you've got to read to believe it.
Don't miss an opportunity to get to this book.
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