The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Gosh. Where do I start? With the synopsis, I suppose.

So, The Kite Runner is about a couple of boys who grow up together in 1970s Afghanistan. One of them does an awful thing and spends the rest of his life atoning for it. (Yes, I am reminded of Atonement.)

It's written in the first person, which is interesting because it gives you a totally different point of view, ethnically speaking - I can't, off the top of my head, think of any first-person novel I've read that didn't have a white, European protagonist, apart from this one. So it's interesting to see a completely different culture from the eyes of someone who belongs to it. (And the author, Khaled Hosseini, did actually grow up in Afghanistan, which gives the account that little extra credibility - it feels first-hand.) That culture has its bad points, as the protagonist admits, for instance the double standard with regard to women, but also its good points, like the way everyone knows each other.

It was also interesting to read about Afghanistan under Taliban rule. I had no clear idea - and, I suspect, a lot of other Western readers wouldn't have either - what was actually so bad about Taliban rule (apart from the terrorism, obviously), and the novel cleared some of that up for me.

As to the actual writing: one of the book's failings was, I think, that the protagonist's journey to redemption was prioritised above other emotional events, such as deaths and weddings. So, while I nearly wept at some parts directly related to Amir's quest in Afghanistan, other, more digressive parts seemed curiously detached and devoid of emotion.

On the whole, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Afghanistan.