The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant first novel, vividly chronicles the life of an Afghan boy, Amir, attempting to come to grips with his identity, his family, and his relationship to his childhood servant/best friend. Set against the backdrop of tumultuous change in Afghanistan (from monarchy, to Soviet occupation, to warlords, to the Taliban) and the new life Amir and his father carve out in America, The Kite Runner is an intense and riveting drama that you won’t be able to put down.
In the novel, Hosseini describes both terrible, disturbing events and the complexities of love and self-loathing with depth and compassion. With piercing detail and insight, The Kite Runner is beautifully written, and rises to a literary level not often achieved in a first book. Readers will be easily drawn in to the fascinating story, as Amir attempts to run from his sins and failures, and finally embarks on a quest to right past wrongs perpetrated by himself and his father before him. At the end of the book, set in post-9/11 Afghan reconstruction, Amir makes peace with the past, makes peace with himself, and parallels the hope that Afghanistan as a country might achieve a similar reconstruction and begin to heal from wounds long inflicted.
I would issue the caveat that the intensity of detail about violence and what Afghanistan became under the Taliban would not be appropriate for younger readers, and even older readers should be aware that the realities of life in Afghanistan during this time period were disturbing and wrenching.
Since I have a personal policy against wasting my life reading trash fiction, I don’t read a lot of recently published novels, but I would highly recommend The Kite Runner. It’s a book well worth reading and owning.