The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by L. Bennett
In The Kite Runner, author Khaled Hosseini weaves a tale of political violence, religious discrimination, and abject poverty. It is filled with vivid prose, passionate human relations, and demeaning acts of violence. The novel is at once intense, revolting, and loving.
Beginning in Afghanistan during the 1970s, the story moves through the country's transformation at the hand of the Tailiban, then crosses the globe to an expatriate community in America, concluding shortly after 9/11.
The lead character is Amir, born into a comfortable class of Afghanistan society and very impressed by the superiority of his station in life. As do many boys, he looks forward to the kite flying contests of winter, where he and is friend, Hassan, anticipate besting their playmates. Then, as Hassan runs after the kite Amir has just cut free, a group of older boys trap Hassan and teach him a lesson as old as humanity. Amir watches, his cowardice rendering him immobile. For the next several decades, Amir's disgust with himself torments his life. His arrival in America may dull his guilt but does not erase it.
When he receives a call from an aged and ill friend, Amir returns to Afghanistan. His friend gives him the opportunity to make amends, and reveals a connection between Hassan and Amir that crumbles the latter's comfortable assumptions about life. The ensuing struggle with politics, bureaucracy, family obligations, and truth help Amir find moral strength but it is a lesson he has trouble learning. It is a kite flying contest that once again puts things into perspective.