THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini

Kite-runner As I mentioned last week, 2010 was the year of reading books that other people liked. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is definitely on that list – it’s a bestseller that’s been ubiquitous for years (came out in 2003), but that I hadn’t been particularly motivated to read until about a month ago.

For those few who haven’t read it already, The Kite Runner is the story of Amir, a privileged boy who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan in the early 70s with a strong but distant and unapproving father. His best friend was Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, who adored Amir unconditionally despite Amir’s often dismissive and cruel attitude toward him. The Kite Runner follows Amir after he and his father emigrated to America when the Russians take over Afghanistan, until he ends up returning to the troubled country in the early 00’s when the Taliban is now in power.

Amir betrays Hassan early on in the book, and spend his life deeply regretting it. The Kite Runner is a story of redemption – the lengths one will go to in order “to be good again”. It is also a story about fathers and sons, and the lengths one will go to for the approval both of a parent and a society. And, finally, it is of course the story of the destruction of Afghanistan over the last decades, due to political warlordism, bombings, violence, Taliban, etc.

The Kite Runner is a painful read – there is violence lurking at every corner. But it is a very powerful book, too – one that I had trouble putting down. The writing is clear and simple, even repetitive at times. Hosseini makes a few of the same points over and over, which was a little annoying by the end – as if the reader couldn’t have grasped his themes without the repetition. I also had issues with the last third of the book, which seemed unrealistic in places and rushed, compared to the contemplative, detailed pace of the first two thirds.

In the end, I liked The Kite Runner, but I didn’t love it. I am not surprised that it became as popular as it did – it is a bit of an adrenaline rush, both brutal and beautiful. I am glad I read it, and glad to have learned more about Afghanistan. I listened to it mostly on audio, narrated by the author, which I recommend (I loved hearing his native accent).

I’m sure many of you have read The Kite Runner – what did you think?


  • January 4, 2011 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    I have this in print and do plan to read it one day. The audio sounds good, but I’ll probably do better with print since the book is brutal.

  • January 4, 2011 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    I found it poignant and thought-provoking, and I learned a lot about a culture and political history about which I was not particularly well-informed. This is the kind of book I’m grateful to for nudging me occasionally out of my domestic-fiction comfort zone.

  • January 4, 2011 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    I had to read it for school. Aside from that, I’m not sure if I would have picked it up on my own. But I am incredibly glad that I did read it. I really enjoyed the book. But I agree with you, the last third of the book isn’t quite as wonderful as the first two thirds. Still, it certainly is a good book worth reading.

  • January 4, 2011 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

    The Kite Runner was my city’s One Book, One City pick and as a library book club, we were asked to read it. I shamelessy abandoned it about 50 pages in. I couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t get excited about any of it.
    However, I usually feel that way about much hyped books.

  • January 4, 2011 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve actually never read this one, but I own it (and his other novel, which I’ve heard is better). I never seem to prioritize books popular with the masses. I’ll get to it one year I’m sure…

  • January 4, 2011 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I loved it, although I found parts of it incredibly painful to read. But I read it literally the month it came out before all the hype. I think the years of hype can really affect the book’s impact. And Happy New Year Gayle!

  • January 7, 2011 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was an excellent book. I actually read it in two languages and bought several copies to give away.

  • MichelleS
    January 14, 2011 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I liked The Kite Runner, and my students tend to love it. However, I too, thought A Thousand Splendid Suns was much better. Perhaps that is just because KR is told from a male p-o-v, whereas ATSS is told from a female p-o-v. I guess I resonated better with the female perspective.

  • January 25, 2011 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    I read it and saw the movie, very moving. But he’s other one that was published after Kite Runner, A Thousand Slendid Suns, had a greater impact on me. I just loved it. If you have not read it,give that one a try too.

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