Book Review: Kite Runner

Title: Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Type: Fiction

The early part of the book is set in Afghanistan, then moves briefly to Pakistan, and then to the US. The lead character spends his early years in Afghanistan with his Dad and then leaves the country during the Russian occupation and later returns during the peak of the Taliban rule. The story revolves around this eventful journey during which the lead character, Amir, transitions from boyhood to a grown up, married man and finally a published author. Circumstances draw him back to Afghanistan, and the story then traces its way back for a US-Pak-Afghanistan-Pak-USA round trip during which he is exposed to life threatening events and deep emotional trauma.

The book appears to be (at least partly) autobiographical. The lead character in the book is referred to in first person (“I”) throughout the book. In other words, the story is told in a narrative style. Some parts of the book refer to Fremont, and other parts of the SF bay area. It was nice to read references to places that I could relate to. Incidentally, the author is a physician based in the SF bay area. There are quite a few references to Hindi movies and Hindi music. The author has certainly been influenced to some extent by these films. There are scenes that can be directly adapted into hindi films! Fight scenes, sick person coughing blood yet refusing treatment, display of unusual courage despite fatal consequences, romance despite minimal interaction etc.

I hear that this book is a big success. It also happens to be author’s first book. Given all the recent trouble in Afghanistan, the timing of this book could not have been better (it was published sometime in mid 2003). The book is certain to appeal to the western audience, in particular. There are plenty of references to contradictions of mullahs, muslims who drink, atrocities of the Taliban, stoning to death etc. etc.

Overall, a superbly written novel, and a most engaging read. Its only about 350 pages and not one of those long novels. I highly recommend the book especially if you like fiction that involves family drama.

I’ll be curious to read the authors next book. The deeply autobiographical nature of most maiden efforts often result in powerful, poignant storylines that often lead to huge successes that are hard to replicate. Also, subsequent books often tend to suffer from high expectations created after a successful first book. In any case, an excellent first novel.

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