[My brother, Mat Salo, requested this book review a while ago. So, this post is dedicated to him with hope that he won't be so lonely out there at the rig].
Mat Salo is dead wrong this time around: Khaled Hosseini does not labour each word in The Kite Runner, he romances them. One could not pencil such a poignant story just by labouring, he must have been in love with those powerful verbs punched all over the book.
Hosseini’s debut novel exudes class and edges on the border of perfection. I read countless of books – fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, history, memoir, travel narratives, science and literature – but Hosseini’s book, by far, supersedes the modern day literature’s benchmark.
If I were to be in the panel, I give him the Booker award – a thousand times over. I find myself confounded with admiration at the end of such a pleasant reading journey. A gripping tale that would rip your heart in pieces – a thousand times over. You have got to read the book to understand how haunting the phrase “a thousand times over” can be.
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan medical doctor by training. The US granted him a political asylum in 1980 following a civil conflict that devastated his homeland.
Hosseini has a rare gift – a gift to tell a story. Everything about this book – the prose, the plots, the characters – are developed confidently leaving no room for criticism. Save and except for one minor spelling mistake as the author describes the protagonist’s birthday party, all is good in this book. There is nothing showy about his writing style; only a gripping storyline that flows through the pages.
I have always wondered about life and political upheaval in Afghanistan and Hosseini kills my curiosity for good as he weaves a perfect fabric of life in Afghanistan and its history. Hosseini’s book transcends all barriers. I don’t have to be in Afghanistan to learn about the author’s beloved homeland, I just have to read The Kite Runner with my heart wide-opened. Hosseini writes a true page-turner and his readers will instill trust into the characters when the story develops. As the plot thicken, Hosseini tests your emotion and principles like no other debut authors.
The story spans through decades of change in Afghanistan starting from the sacking of the monarchy until the fall of the ruthless Taliban. Everything you ever imagine about Afghanistan is painted as clear as a cloudless sky in this book. The protagonist, Amir, is a son of a wealthy merchant and his life is largely entertwined with Hassan – the son of his father’s servant cum closest-confidante. In a cruel twist of fate, Amir witnessed a ghastly crime committed against Hassan but he didn’t come to Hassan’s defense. His choice not to speak up for Hassan haunts him a lifetime.
Subplot comes in a form of a woman in Amir’s life, Soraya, and her eccentric family. Soraya’s father is an army general who would not lift a finger for a living and cash in social security cheques to feed his family in the US. He waited for years to be called back to Afghanistan to re-serve the army; the only job he thought worthy for someone of his stature.
In short, this sweeping story revolves around love, friendship, history, ultimate betrayal and subsequent redemption. The fight of Hazara – an ethnic minority group – in Afghanistan is also highlighted in the book’s main plot.
I fervently hope that the movie would do justice to Hosseini’s masterpiece. On another note, I have also finished his second book – A Thousand Splendid Suns – which is equally as splendid as his debut novel. Ah, Hosseini…
Please, just buy the book.
Title: The Kite Runner
Local Price: RM35.50 (MPH)
[Image stolen from here].