Monday, June 05, 2006

Book Review - The Kite Runner

It’s true that the experiences one has as a child shapes us into what we become as adults. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a novel set in the background of the war stifled Afghanistan, is based on this belief.

Khaled is the son of an Afghan diplomat. His mother was a teacher in Kabul. During his childhood he had a Hazara servant named Hossein. After the Russians took over Afghanistan, Hosseini’s took political asylum in US. The family had to undergo great hardships in the beginning, living on donations and food stamps. Khaled went on to become a doctor.

The Kite Runner is his first novel, and the story is part biography, but largely fictional. The relation Khaled shared with Hossein, is the root of the relation shared by the protagonists Amir and Hassan in the novel.

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir and Hassan. Amir is the son of a wealthy merchant, who stays in a huge house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul. Hassan is the son of Ali, the servant of Amir’s father.

Both Amir and Hassan were deprived of their mother’s love. Amir’s mother died during his delivery, while Hassan’s mother ran away with a band of singers soon after his birth. They were fed by a woman employed by Amir’s father, and it’s believed that the children who drink from the same breast share a special bond.

They both grow up to become close to each other. Hassan adores Amir and is the ever loyal friend, but Amir does not consider Hassan as a friend. Partly since he is his servant’s son but mainly since Hassan had all the qualities which Amir’s father wanted in Amir, resulting in Amir being a little bit jealous of Hassan.

Amir is a coward, who never stands up for himself, while Hassan was the brave guy who always bailed Amir out of trouble. Amir’s father knew this and was hurt that his son was not behaving like a man. Amir longs to win his fathers heart.

Amir gets a chance of winning his father’s heart during one of the annual kite festival of Kabul. Amir was an excellent kite flyer and Hassan was a good kite runner. On the fateful day of the festival, an incident throws the relation between Amir and Hassan into turmoil.

In between, the Afghan king is overthrown and soon the Russians take over Afghanistan. Amir and his father flees to the US, while Hassan and his father go to their native in northern Afghanistan.

Years roll by, Russians are overthrown by the Afghan warlords and later Taliban take over the reigns of Afghanistan. Over the years, Amir is constantly haunted by the incident which rewrote his relation with Hassan. One fine day Amir, who is married by now, received a call from his father’s old business associate, Rahim Khan, who resides in Pakistan.

The phone call is a chance for Amir to redeem himself, to overcome the horrors of the incident, to stand up for himself, to prove to himself that he is not a coward afterall. He makes the trip, and the trip changes his life for ever.