The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite RunnerI found a copy of ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini on top of a hand dryer in the ladies toilets somewhere a couple of years ago with a note inside which read ‘If you enjoy this book, please pass it on!’.  I feel quite bad for hanging on to it for so long as so many other people could have read it in the time that it has sat on my book shelf collecting dust.  But I also wish I had got round to reading it sooner simply because it is a very worthwhile (if imperfect) read.  ‘The Kite Runner’ tells the story of Amir and his friend Hassan growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970s and the tragic consequences following a kite-fighting competition they take part in.  Although the Russian invasion forces Amir to leave Afghanistan to start a new life in the United States, the events of his childhood never really go away and years later, he returns to his home country following the rise of the Taliban in the hope of finding redemption.

‘The Kite Runner’ is an engaging tale of childhood betrayal and is an important and timely book given that many Westerners still have preconceived ideas about what life has been like in Afghanistan in recent years. Yet the main themes of the story are still universal and the story is very much a personal one rather than being overtly political.  Hosseini’s characters are mostly well observed with believable voices although I felt like I was manipulated into feeling more sympathetic towards Amir than he probably deserved in spite of the huge amount of guilt he carried around with him for years.  Also, the character of Hassan was very idealised and Assef was a simplistic villain.  For the most part, ‘The Kite Runner’ is a movingly written story, but I felt that Hosseini went a bit overboard with the sentimentality and clichés in the all too convenient ending which spoiled the balance.  Overall, I thought the first three quarters of the book were very compelling and well paced so I found the ending a bit disappointing.

I have heard that Hosseini’s second novel, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, is better than ‘The Kite Runner’ and I would be interested in reading that at some point in the future.  Having held on to my copy of ‘The Kite Runner’ for so long, I will obviously be leaving it discreetly in a public place where somebody else can pick it up soon…

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  1. Something about ‘The Kite Runner’ jarred with me. I think, as you mentioned, it was the ending. Looking back I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had hoped to which was a shame.

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  2. Good observations about The Kite Runner and, yes, I liked his second novel much better than this one.

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  3. Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

    I definitely found this to be very moving and how strange for somebody to leave it lying around in a public place with a note. However what a quaint idea! I’d love to do something like that, but I just love my books too much to let them go! *sigh*

    Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

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  4. I’ve had this book for years and haven’t read it yet! I have been planning on getting around to it, but my stack of books keeps growing instead of diminishing…

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  5. I’ve enjoyed reading both his novels!

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  6. Good review. And I love this type of book sharing. Have you encountered the Little Free Libraries before?

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  7. This book is on my TBR list and I really should read it soon because it seems a good one :).

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  8. I absolutely loved the beginning of this novel, but I felt that the author lost his way. The plot seemed totally contrived to me. It kept me from enjoying what could have been a beautiful, simple story. I haven’t read the follow-up, but based on one of the comments I would like to.

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  9. Am I the only one who thought “Kite Runner” is better than “Thousand Splendid Suns”? These books made me weep for Afghanistan, also made me want to know more about the country’s literature.

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  10. Pingback: A Thousand Splendid Suns: Book Review « Dirty Laundry

  11. I liked both books, but I think I liked SUNS better just because it was about women’s lives under the Taliban. Both books were difficult to read, painful I mean.

    Leaving books in public places for others to read is becoming more and more common these days. I’ve been doing it for a few years. It’s a mitzvah (good deed).

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  14. Sal

    Remember I couldn’t put the book down, it’s so heartbreaking esp the friendship part. Hassan is such a good man, so loyal and faithful. Would have hope for a different turnout. It’s story about friendship, betrayal, father-son relationship, lies, secrets, remorse and redemption. Points to ponder as well. Same for 1000 Splendid Suns, about regrets and redemption. Now the author has a third book coming up I think.

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