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The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini


Amazon.com

In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg






From: "Peg Harrah" 

This book deserves its own heading and not lost in Life Interrupters.  Though I want to keep a line of Life Interrupters open so that new ones can keep coming to us.

The Kite Runner, as Gail said, is a run - don't walk to read.  It is well worth the price of hardcover because this is a marvelous read.  Thank you, Gail and Bob, for the heads up.

A very emotional story that has left me just a little drained and, yes, it will be right up there with the top reads of the year in a year that has already given me many.  If it doesn't, than this will be an overly outstanding year of reads.

Peg



From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

You know, Peg, I loved this book so much, I've not been able to write a full post that captures my feeling. I know that when a couple of friends stopped by mid afternoon on the day I read it and invited me for grilled steaks, I hemmed and hawed, eyed the book on the table, and told them that "Really, my stomach has been bothering me and I want to take it easy" so I could stay with it.

merrygail has not been around in a while, but I wrote her a note of special thanks for this one.


BOB



From: "R Bavetta" 

This one sounds intriguing so I went investigating. Found the author's web page. He's a physician in N. CA.

http://www.khaledhosseini.com/

R

From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

Isn't that a wonderful site, Ruth? I love the photo gallery and appreciate that it isn't heavily selling, just that lovely quote from Allende up front.

The book is such a wonderful blend of history, juxtaposing a deeply personal story against one of history's great tragedies, the destruction and oppression of Afghanistan. This is the first important work of fiction about a country we as Americans have a very different relationship to and feeling for now.

Of course, I wonder now how much of this novel is autobiographical in the way first novels often are.

  

BOB




From: "R Bavetta" 

It now sits in my Amazon basket awaiting enough companions to qualify for free shipping.

R


From: "Jean Keating" 

I'm chiming in to sing the praises of this book and thank Peg for starting a thread about it.  I looked for mentions I'd seen earlier and couldn't find them.

This is a book that brought me to tears and I zipped through it.  I, too, sent gail a note thanking her for recommending it.

Jean K.


From: "Peg Harrah" 

The other story that captivated me this year was also written by a Doctor - or a Doctor soon to be - The Piano Tuner. 

I think this could be the trend this year for me.

Ruth, if you are looking for an Amazon companion, this one could be it.  

Peg



From: "R Bavetta" 

To tell the truth, I've been eyeing it. Damn, I've GOT to stop buying so many books.

R

From: "Ruby Red" 

hihi to all of you who were knocked out by THE KITE RUNNER..

i am awaiting a few books and everything i pick up doesn't compare to THE KITE RUNNER ... 

this is an occupational hazard...i tried THE FALL but then it fell short!!!...

both doctors who wrote piano tuner and kite runner live here in san francisco....both young and have many moons ahead to titillate us with their fine writing and stories...

i marvel at how most of you just soar from one novel to another... lucky you!!

gail......awaiting another BARNBUSTER!!



From: "Tonya Presley" 

>>>this is an occupational hazard...i tried THE FALL but then it fell short!!!...

Har, har, har!!

I picked up THE KITE RUNNER, even against my resolve to stop buying books (especially hardcover books), and I'll start it later today.

This will be a new thing for me, to see whether or not I like this book-- but there's just no doubt I will after the responses here. Thing is, reading the book jacket description, I was not drawn to the story at all. Usually this would happen the opposite way, I get a book based on the description, then sometimes don't care for it in spite of what seemed like great appeal.

But don't ask why the synopsis didn't strike my fancy; I just have no idea.

Tonya


From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

On 7/21/2003 1:03:00 PM, Tonya Presley wrote:

>But don't ask why the synopsis
>didn't strike my fancy; I just
>have no idea.
>

I think it's a hard book to desCribe adequately in so small a space as a jacket flap because there are a lot of things going on. First of all, there is the story of a boyhood friendship and a betrayal which leads to a story of one man's redemption. There is the encapsulation of thirty years of Afghani history. There is the story of a father and son relationship and the son's constant seeking of approval. There is a terrific section dealing with Afghan refugees in the US that I think far surpasses that of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. There are a pair of corking good adventure stories, one midway and one that finishes the novel.

Would I specifically recommend it to you, Tonya, or Ruth? Probably not, but certainly you surprised me with your enjoyment of CLOUD OF SPARROWS.


BOB




From: "Theresa Simpson" 

Now I I faced with a minor dilemma.

This book received lukewarm reviews, and so hasn't been on my book-buying radar. But y'all have just about managed to change my mind with this thread. 

On the other hand, the last two times I rushed out and laid down good money for hardcover copies of books based on glowing recos here on CR, I was disappointed (we're talking Life of Pi; and that book by Alice Sebold.) On the OTHER other hand, I've discovered some fantastic books/authors based on CR recos. For example, Life and Times of Michael K.

So, based on my reaction to Pi and Sebold, and to Ondaatje (as an example) should I go ahead and buy this book?

Theresa


From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

On 7/22/2003 2:12:00 AM, Theresa Simpson wrote:
>Now I am faced with a minor
>dilemma...
>
>So, based on my reaction to Pi
>and Sebold, and to Ondaatje
>(as an example) should I go
>ahead and buy this book?
>
>Theresa

If you'd like, Theresa, I'll happily send on my copy as a loaner if you just put your snail mail address in my e-mailbox. No strings attached, not even a favorable review!


BOB



From: "Tonya Presley" 

At about 100 pages, I must say this is a terrific and heartbreaking read. I can't imagine this writer losing me, he has great control and a wonderful talent for descriptions.

>From pg. 11:

Lore has it my father once wrestled a black bear in Baluchistan with his bare hands. If the story had been about anyone else, it would have been dismissed as laaf, that Afghan tendency to exaggerate - sadly, almost a national affliction; if someone bragged that his son was a doctor, chances were the kid had once passed a biology test in high school. But no one ever doubted the veracity of any story about Baba. And if they did, well, Baba did have those three parallel scars coursing a jagged path down his back. I have imagined Baba's wrestling match countless times, even dreamed about it. And in these dreams, I can never tell Baba from the bear.

This boy's longing for a relationship with his father is a lot of the heartbreak. Baba is a busy and successful man. I am very interested to see how he gets on in California.

I loved the kite contest! Have never heard of such a thing, but I almost wish it was a tradition here, too, it sounds very exciting. But I say almost because of the glass string --OUCH!!! 

Tonya



From: "R Bavetta" 

Haven't read this, T, but your mention of the glass string reminds me of reading about a kite contest in Japan, where they used a glass-coated string to cut down the other kites.

R


From: "Jean Keating" 

Tonya, I predict that you'll love the rest of this book.  Like Bob, it's one of my favorites so far this year.  Heartbreaking is an apt term for it.

Jean K.


From: "Tonya Presley" 

Exactly the same thing, Ruth. Last kite flying wins the contest.

I made more progress this afternoon, breezing past the halfway point. Eager now for Amin's return to Afghanistan! 

Tonya



From: "Tonya Presley" 

Done. 

It is a stunning debut, especially for a doctor - a species not renown for great communication skills! I enjoyed it very much, and even though I felt some worries stirring after I'd grasped the perfect circle being drawn in the book, somehow he manages it without being too absurd.

There are unforgettable characters and scenes in THE KITE RUNNER that I'll think about for a long time. 

For Theresa, I don't know. On the one hand, I would like to think everybody would agree it is a lovely, compelling story. On the other hand, it is hard to ever know, particularly for someone with such distinct tastes. Maybe the best idea is to read enough in the bookstore to get a feel for the story. (As I did for Oryx and Crake, another hardcover tugging on my pocketbook!)

Tonya


From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

Glad to hear it had the same impact on you. I agree, the one thing I found a bit sticky were all the coincidences that crop up in the final section, the scar being the most farfetched. 

S

P

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I

L

E

R

Also, the boyhood enemy turning up as the Taliban in command there was a bit too tidy and really unnecessary.

I didn't have any problem accepting that the boy was a brother, it kind of knocked my socks off and forced me to rethink a lot of bits and pieces like the garden scene. The one thing I'm wondering is if others saw it coming?

Coincidentally, just when I thought about posting about all this, I read  a "Times" story about a document that had been unearthed that told a remarkable story of two brothers who fought on separate sides in the Civil War. One went into the Deep South and enlisted, the other stayed with the North. They both turned up on the front lines at Gettysburg, both were seriously wounded. Both wound up in a hospital in New York. They were both treated by the same nurse who told their story. The nurse was Walt Whitman.

After I read that, I decided my thoughts were no longer relevant! But, all in all, I agree, a bit too tidy there.

BOB


From: "Tonya Presley" 

S

P

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R


Yeah, just what you said. And the bully didn't just turn up, he had the boy. And he had the boy just long enough to devastate, but not kill him.

I wondered if Hosseini went a little easy on himself in some other things. Amir only had to admit his actions once, to a totally uninvolved party. Never to Baba, and Rahim Khan conveniently already knew. And Amir never had to face Hassan again at all, that was what I thought would be a tough scene to write right, and I was itchy to read it. I knew he could do it justice.

Tonya


From: "Peg Harrah" 

Tonya, your point is an excellent one.  That would have been a dynamic scene.

Peg


From: "Peg Harrah" 

S

P

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R





In the coincidences area, I knew that the mean teenager was going to be brought back in the story as either a mean Lt. of the Taliban if not a major mean leader.  What I found coincidental was that he was keeping tabs on Hassan and his family in order to take Hassan's son.  

But just like in the B movies, you know he had to more to do with the story.

As for the two to be brothers, I didn't see it coming either.  And I thought why didn't the rest of the community recognize Hassan as Baba's son.  There had to be some similarities between Hassan, Amir and Baba.  But then maybe the harelip was important to disguise the child.

Peg 



From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

Actually the one thing that puzzled me is that why Baba was generous enough to pay for the corrective surgery, yet made no efforts to educate the boy, which would certainly have improved his lot even more, even if it meant a private tutor.


BOB




From: "Tonya Presley" 

SSSSS


PPPPP


OOOOO


IIIII


LLLLL


EEEEE


RRRRR


SSSSS


Me too, Bob!! Even long before I found out Baba was his father, his generosity was so selective. But it must have been his fear of blowing his secret that kept them true servants. Maybe he comforted himself they were so much better off than others of their race (tribe?), but it's clear what he was setting up: Hassan was intended to be his brother's servant for life. His son would have been his cousin's servant, and so on and so on.

In fact that description of the boys' morning routine was difficult for me to imagine, considering what their afternoons were like. How could Amir not do one thing, ever, for his friend? Points to how ingrained prejudices are, I think. 

Tonya


From: "Peg Harrah" 

SSS




PPP



OOOO


Oh what they hey - read at your own peril.






Tonya, I think Amir's problem was not so much snobbery as just not having a spine.  He
never could stand up to anyone.

Peg

From: "Dottie Randall" 

I want you to know that I've been skipping over the spoileres here but I must give accolades to Tonya and Peg for these last two  shining examples of posting a spoiler so the slip isn't showing.  Ladies -- take a bow.  I am looking forward to this one once I'm settled enough somewhere to start thinking books again.

Dottie

"...we should consideró lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark."

óWilliam Stafford


From: "Bob Markiewicz" 

Harumph. I worked overtime on mine, although I was admiring of Tonya's multiple letter design. Thing is, Dottie, you can never be sure how it will work on a viewer's screen. It all depends on how wide they have this side set. (For those who don't realize, you can drag that vertical bar in the middle to adjust.) Mine is a bit narrower, because I like to see the name of the poster.


BOB



From: "Dottie Randall" 

Oh quit harumphing -- sorry I sidetracked things there.  You rarely let a spoiler slip, Bob.

Okay back to the book talk.

Dottie -- heading into exhaustion -- read grumpy -- look out {BEG}

"...we should consideró lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark."

óWilliam Stafford


From: "Dale Short" 

Today I brought home the one copy of THE KITE RUNNER in our entire county library system not already checked out, and hope to start reading it this weekend. (The librarian gave it a rave review, by the way.)

In the small-world department, did anybody hear the story on Public Radio International's "The World" this week about authorities in Lahore, Pakistan banning kite flying? Not for the reasons the Taliban used, that it's a frivolous and non-spiritual entertainment, but because kite-flying in Lahore has gotten so competitive and violent that people are dying from it.

Here's the link to the radio report; scroll down to the third item from the bottom:

http://www.theworld.org/latesteditions/20030728.shtml





>>Dale in Ala.
http://www.writerstoolkit.com From: "Jean Keating" Aug. 18 at 6:30 pm PST. KPBS-FM's "Book Club of the Air" will feature Khaled Hosseini, who will discuss and answer questions about his novel, The Kite Runner. Jean K. From: "R Bavetta" I just finished this book. I sprung for the hardcover, so I must admit, on the strength of the first chapter or so, my heart sank. It really read like a first novel, I could hardly keep my fingers from reaching for the blue editing pencil. But then it got rolling, and I couldn't put it down. Polished it off in a day. Whammo of a story. DO WE STILL NEED SPOILERS? I did find some of the coincidences a little hard to take, especially the one about Assef, Amir's childhood nemesis, turning up as a Talibanish Pedophilic Hitler. I don't think that improved the story at all. In fact, it detracted from it. Surely the author could have found another equally dangerous and thrilling, but more plausible adventure to put Amir through. Yes, I know it made a nice resonance with events earlier in the book, but it was way too nice. Still, it was a good read, and gave me a real (I hope) feeling for events in Afghanistan. R From: "Dale Short" Ruth: I'm encouraged to hear that you had problems with the first chapter of THE KITE RUNNER. I've been unable to get past it, and have gotten sidetracked onto two other books. Couldn't quite put my finger on the problem...tentative? awkward?...but I think you're right, it has a first-novel feel. (Unlike Bo Caldwell's XXXXXXXX FATHER, which I picked up at the library today and whose first page hooked me. Strange, how that works. In any event, I'm off to KITE RUNNER to catapult past Chapter One and enjoy the experience... >>Dale in Ala.
http://www.writerstoolkit.com From: "R Bavetta" It never completely overcomes its first novel feel, Dale, but the story and the setting become so fascinating that I was willing to forgive. R From: "Bob Markiewicz" "Control," as you all refer to it, seems to be in the eye of the reader. While Ruth, with her ever-ready blue pencil, has cited a lack of control here, Tonya wrote earlier that "I can't imagine this writer losing me, he has great control and a wonderful talent for descriptions." Go figger. BOB From: "Tonya Presley" Where has my brain gone? As I read Ruth's note, with this book a mere 3 books in the past, I wondered did I think the first chapter was lacking? Couldn't remember until Bob quoted me! Tonya From: "R Bavetta" What I mean by lack of control, is that while what he says is said well, he says too much of it. There's a tendency to explain and explicate the character's feelings, when he should have trusted his own writing. He deliniated character and action very well, well enough that we didn't need to be told all the time how the character was feeling. That's what made it read like a first novel to me -- author a tad anxious that the reader isn't going to get it, so he tends to over explain when it's not necessary. I know I read with that ever-present blue pencil, as you put it, Bob. It's a by-product of writing poetry, the bailiwick of the most fussbudget writers around. The further I got into the book, tho, the better the writing became, so I'm glad I stuck with it. One aspect that I found very interesting was the role reversal that happened between father and son after they came to the US. In Afghanistan, the father was dominant, domineering, all-powerful. After they came here, it was the son who found it easiest to adapt, so he became the leader in their relationship. Not an uncommon story. R From: "Sherry Keller" Shoot, most of the notes have timed out. I finished this last night at around one in the morning. I, too, found some of the coincidences a little hard to take. I'm sure he set up Assef to be the Taliban guy from the very beginning, and it did serve to help the reader understand the mind-set of the Taliban, but I kind of agree with Ruth. Other than that, I was immersed in the story about a place and time I know so little about. My heart was thumping and I tried to close my inner eye, just as Amir had his eyes closed for the half-time events at the soccer game. How gruesome, but it's good for me to know about stuff like that. I know it happens. I kept wanting Amir to send Hassan's son to a doctor or psychiatrist after they returned. And I also wanted them all to wear gloves when they fought with those kites.

Sherry From: "Kay Dugan" Just finished this. The plot conveniences were glaring, but I did get absorbed in Amir's tale. I loved learning about the Afghani customs and will read Hosseini's next novel for the sheer joy of the story. Thanks for the recommendation.

K


 

 

 

 
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