The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by Ibironke Lawal, Collection Librarian for Engineering and Sciences
Set in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner is a fascinating story of cowardice and courage, truth and lies, loyalty and betrayal, sincerity and deceit all woven into one. It is the story of two boys, Amir and Hassan; the one, the son of a Pashtun--the elites of Afghan society, and the other, the son of an Hazara--the lower class. The Hazaras generally work as servants and bodyguards, frequently risking their lives to protect their Pashtun masters. The author's vivid account of the friendship between the two boys reveals the social disparity in that society as well as the humiliation and injustices that the Hazaras experience in their daily struggle for survival. Amir, a Pashtun, was born with the silver spoon in his mouth, while Hassan is both a friend and servant since his father (Ali), an Hazara, is a servant of Amir's father (Baba). Ironically, Amir's father (Baba) seems to have more affection for Hassan than for his own son (Amir). Out of jealousy, Amir sets Hassan up and accuses him of theft, a serious crime in Afghan society. As a result, Hassan and his father (Ali) were expelled from Amir's household, and soon Amir developed guilty conscience.
Shortly after the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Amir and his father (Baba) sought political asylum in California to live as ordinary citizens. Though separated by thousands of miles, both Amir and Hassan grew up and got married. But, by twists and turns, Amir discovered that Hassan was his half-brother after all, though his father (Baba) did not tell him before he died. Then, news reached him that the Taliban had murdered Hassan and his wife and that a son called Sohrab survived them.
The cycle begins again, Sohrab has to save Amir's life just as his father before him. It is going to be different now. It is time for Amir to atone for his sins and make it up to Hassan by taking care of Sohrab. He has to free him from the insecure cruel life of abuse, hunger and grief. He brings him to America as his adopted son.
Though his first, Hosseini does a good job of telling the story from an Afghan point of view. The dichotomy he displays throughout the book of good and evil depicts the true state of things in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. One cannot but see the similarities between this and the civil rights era in America when African Americans had similar status to the 'Afghan Hazaras.' The book provides food for thought. It will appeal to all audiences even juveniles who are interested in learning about the culture of other countries.