Book Review: The Kite Runner

Fiction can be informative. Not all bestsellers lack substance. This absolute masterpiece from Khaled Hosseini is testimony to both these statements. The writing style is terse and Hosseini does not waste words, saying so much with so few words. This book in many ways reminded me of the writings of V. S, Naipal but nothing I have ever read from the latter has been this intense or riveting.

The early part of this book is about a wealthy motherless boy, Amir, living with his privileged father in Afghanistan in the early 70s. In the servants' quarters of the mansion where Ali lives, dwells Hassan, another motherless boy and his father Ali. The society Hosseini describes is not unlike the Zamindari system that prevailed in India for centuries. It is a society when richer landlords exploited the poor and the unprivileged classes could not have a voice of their own.

However, in such a world, , Amir's dad treats his servant Ali with kindness and treats Hassan like his own son. Hassan and Amir forge a solid bond a bond which would be tested by some horrific events in their personal lives. Even the political environment of Afghanistan that forms the backdrop for this story will change, never to become what it originally was.

Afghanistan will transition from a Monarchy to an unstable republic to a nation usurped by Russia and then be transformed by the Taliban, never again to reclaim its past glory.

Amir and his father are forced to flee to Pakistan during the Russian invasion and then to the US where Amir becomes a writer. He is still dealing with demons of the childhood, demons he cannot put behind him. Finally a phone call from Pakistan from an old friend of his father brings with it, a glimmer of redemption.

Whether or not he finds redemption forms the rest of this riveting narrative. This book is testimony that even this century can produce works of literature. Some of these works, do become NY times bestsellers. Thank god!

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