Longlisted for the 2005 IMPAC literary award
Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan and his family received political asylum in the USA in 1980. He is a doctor and lives in California. The Kite Runner is his first novel.
This novel relates the demise of friendship and the precipitous decline of Afghanistan at the end of the 20th century. Amir, a Pashtun, and his Hazara servant, Hassan, have grown up not only as master and servant but also as inseparable friends. Yet Amir is jealous of his father's affection for Hassan, who, though poor and illiterate, has many talents. Amir abandons Hassan at a time of extreme need and then, motivated by guilt, brutally betrays him. After he and his father escape to the United States following the Russian invasion, Amir continues to suffer from regret and guilt. In the latter half of the novel, Amir returns to Afghanistan and begins to atone for his childhood mistakes. Although the narrative suffers from an overreliance on coincidence, it provides a vivid glimpse of life in Afghanistan over the past quarter century. The characters of Amir and his father, their relationship, and the relationship of Hassan and Amir are all carefully and convincingly described and developed. Hosseini, now a doctor in California, is possibly the only Afghan author writing in English, and his first novel is recommended for all public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
'This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years ... It is so powerful that for a long time after, everything I read seemed bland' Isabel Allende (author of 'The House of the Spirits') 'A story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love ... vivid and engaging' New York Times 'The shattering first novel by Khaled Hosseini... a rich and soul-searching narrative ... a sharp, unforgettable taste of the trauma and tumult experienced by Afghanis as their country buckled.' Observer
Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s. Amir, the son of a well-to-do Kabul merchant, is the first-person narrator, who marries, moves to California and becomes a successful novelist. But he remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend, a Hazara boy named Hassan, who receives a brutal beating from some local bullies. After establishing himself in America, Amir learns that the Taliban have murdered Hassan and his wife, raising questions about the fate of his son, Sohrab. Spurred on by childhood guilt, Amir makes the difficult journey to Kabul, only to learn the boy has been enslaved by a former childhood bully who has become a prominent Taliban official. The price Amir must pay to recover the boy is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the true nature of his relationship to Hassan. Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium. (June 2) Forecast: It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality. Though Afghanistan is now on the media back burner, its fate is still of major interest and may become even more so as the U.S.'s nation-building efforts are scrutinized. 10-city author tour; foreign rights sold in Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-This beautifully written first novel presents a glimpse of life in Afghanistan before the Russian invasion and introduces richly drawn, memorable characters. Quiet, intellectual Amir craves the attention of his father, a wealthy Kabul businessman. Kind and self-confident Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant. The motherless boys play together daily, and when Amir wins the annual kite contest, Hassan offers to track down the opponent's runaway kite as a prize. When he finds it, the neighborhood bullies trap and rape him, as Amir stands by too terrified to help. Their lives and their friendship are forever changed, and the memory of his cowardice haunts Amir as he grows into manhood. Hassan and his father return to the village of their ancestors, and later Amir and his father flee to Los Angeles to avoid political persecution. Amir attends college, marries, and fulfills his dream of becoming a writer. When Amir receives word of his former friend's death under the Taliban, he returns to Kabul to learn the fate of Hassan's son. This gripping story of personal redemption will capture readers' interest.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.