The Kite Runner – Book Review

[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)
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 978-0-7475-9489-5

[Image stolen from here].

Khaled cries foul against Bloggers

Before I proceed with this post, I have a confession to make: even though I joined boycott the main stream media’s campaign, I still read the newspaper from time to time. This habit of reading Sunday papers in bed is hard to shake off. So, there you go, at least I hope you won’t call me a hypocrite with this confession. In my defense, every Sunday, Star Mag features book reviews and commentaries on literary events – I love that. I don’t care about the reporting on MSM.

As I thumb the Star with a my first cup of coffee, I chance upon this report about Higher Education Minister, Khaled Nordin, calling a foul shot on bloggers. Khaled said, I quote, “There were articles criticising the Government. We also sent in many replies but they were removed by the bloggers”.

Sir, I want to know which of us bloggers, who denied your right to freedom of speech? I am sure, you will remember some of it, at least. It is unfair to all bloggers for you to make such a general statement, assuming you are, in fact, telling the truth.

Khaled went on further to say, “We made mistake. The blogs play an important role. The people read and believe what’s said in the blogs. Now, we are looking at blogs to respond to them but are prevented from doing so”.

Oh, dear… save for the apology which was made in a positive voice, I cannot see a point of Khaled making this statement. Khaled must name the bloggers he claimed to prevent him from giving his point of view. If the blogger in question did remove Khaled’s comment, he or she then owes everyone an explanation for his or her decision in removing Khaled’s comment.

However, if Khaled cannot name any bloggers to substantiate his allegation, the rest of his words in the newspaper today are just a sheer waste of my time.

[Read the Star report here]

Sheih’s Mom passes away…

My brother, Sheih, of the famed Kickdefella has just lost his mom at 5.30 this evening. My thoughts are forever with you, my brother, during this difficult time. Blogging friends and netizens, please say a prayer for Sheih’s mom and for him to go through this ordeal with strength and conviction. Al-Fathehah.

Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned.” [Al-Quran 21:35]

Turn off your lights!

Tonight, let’s turn off our lights for an hour from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. to observe Earth Hour global blackout and help reduce energy consumption. This post is to support my dearest friend, Anu, who just jolted me back to reality with her text message a while ago.

For further details please click on Euphoria in Misery.

Me? I’ll turn off the lights tonight and put on Julio Iglesias’ version of Vincent -

“Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and grey…”

Sleepless in Setiawangsa 11

Raindrop drums on the balcony’s awning, yielding a comforting sound as rain normally does to my ear. The whole of Bukit Setiawangsa is blanketed with darkness as the night inches away.The love of my life – Luqman – is deep in sleep paving way for me to dance my pencil across this battered moleskin.

Tonight, let’s talk about relationship; relationship which spans most part of our lives. I am no expert in this issue but talk about it I must since your input will give me a better perspective. Theories abound but, more often than not, you will learn through experience.

Yesterday, I spoke to my oldest friend who has been married for a decade. She endures numerous ordeals to get to where she is right now. Still, she knows no better – as she herself claimed to be. When two different persons roof together for years, differences bound to wrest them in the neck. The differences that you so skillfully conceal during your courting time. Ah, did I see you nodding to this statement?

We are all made up of different stuff – background, education, principles – in our lives. Often, we make mistake to make our partner think just like the way we do. Communication isn’t as simple a medium as we thought it can be especially when we are from Venus and they are from Mars.

I note that most Malaysian man and woman (take note that I restrain myself from using the word Malay, Chinese or Indian in the spirit of Malaysian Malaysia) wish to emulate their partners to his or her liking. Admittedly, we all have that perfect picture of our loved ones that we canvassed in our heads. We sadly overlook the fact that the our partner is an individual. As an individual, what sets them apart from the rest is their idiosyncrasies.

Over the years these idiosyncrasies turn annoying. We want them to be just like that person we painted in our head so long ago as our significant other.

My sincerest advice would be, let it go. For that person is someone else – not you. There is no such thing as perfection in a real relationship. If you think you are having such a perfect relationship, it is probably time for a reality-check. The desire to emulate our partner to be someone we dream them to be could lead to a catastrophe not fit for mention here.

We can’t change that person and I figure if thing they do does not hurt anyone but your ego, just let it go; for the price of changing someone is so high, you’ll get dizzy with its altitude.

In your attempt to change someone, fights will bound to happen, anger will ultimately boils down to shouting match. But you must remember, words once spoken, they are no longer yours. They belong to that person you addressed those words to. Chances are that person will remember especially when you are careless with your language.

Just like any other woman next to me, I tend to regret things I said in fists of anger. Most of the time, I can’t take it back so I will dwell in regret and try my best to make up for it. Best that I keep mum when wind of anger sweeps me.

Me? I don’t want to change anything about anyone save for my first love – Barisan Nasional. I understand this through a hard lesson; a lesson I can’t afford to pay for again. But there are things I did that I am not proud of. There is certain unfathomable addiction of my life that I wish to get rid of, not for anyone, but for myself – for Luqman mostly.

I end this post with a question you have to sincerely answer, ‘have we become so jaded with selfishness that we choose form over substance?’

Goodnight Sleepless in Setiawangsa.

Tengku Razaleigh – the prince hath spoken

First, I apologise for lack of Sleepless in Setiawangsa and book review in this blog. The hullabaloo in our political landscape makes me take a backseat in my reading and writing. It is amazing how main stream media spins the story nowadays. Suddenly, bloggers are now in favour. Read Shanghai Fish’s take here. No, I am not shifting to be a political blogger, I am just too consumed with current affairs in this country, that’s all. I’ll be back to my dull writing material in no time – I promise you that.

The temptation to write about UMNO – my first love – is just too great to resist. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, an UMNO stalwart in Gua Musang – hath spoken. He called upon UMNO members to convene an extra ordinary general meeting to discuss about the dismal result of the recent general election on 11 Mei 2008.

The Prince fell short of naming one person to blame but pointed to the rest of UMNO members who failed to notice the raging wind of change in the country. Personally, I think this is the best advice that can come out from an UMNO leader.

Ku li is a larger than life figure in Gua Musang – one of the biggest district of my home state, Kelantan. He is next to God in the eyes of Gua Musang’s people. My late grandfather used to say “Ku Li tuh, kalu dia pakai parti cap Beruk pun dia akan menang di Gua Musang.” [Read: the prince can be under any political party of his choice and still wins the election].

Please read his letter at BigDog’s blog and Rocky’s Bru.

I think UMNO leaders should heed his deep warning at the end of the letter “sesal dahulu pendapatan, sesal kemudian tiada berguna.” The saying should apply to us all the lowly mortals as well.

Mukriz the Hang Jebat

In a household with two strong heads domineering each other, it is sometimes difficult to keep a straight face in the midst of conflicting political opinions. I am talking about my husband: an ardent BN supporter. And yours truly – well, I don’t have to explain myself as you probably know where I stand as we speak.

My husband used to say, I quote, “masalahnya, dalam BN tak ade Hang Jebat. Semuanya Hang Tuah, Hang Lekir dan Hang Lekiu.” Today, a BN’s member of Parliament, Mukriz Mahathir, proves this theory wrong when he raised above others stating his stand for Pak Lah to step down in no uncertain terms. I have to say, he is risking his neck in UMNO and will probably get fired from an association stiffed with rigid “lets-please-your-PM” policy.

I applaud his braveity  for he indeed has forsaken his future in politics to tell the truth. We need more leaders like him in BN. Excerpt is the letter widely circulated in the internet from Mukriz to Pak Lah. The letter is published in BigDog, Rocky’s Bru, and the Samad Sisters – Tok Mommy & Nuraina.

Read it yourself and draw your own conclusion. As for yours truly, I believe we are now deep in uncharted water.

12th March 2008

Dato’ Seri,

Let me take this opportunity to thank you and the party’s leadership for the faith in me and the chance to contest in Jerlun as a Barisan Nasional candidate. With the blessing and hard work of the party’s leadership and machinery as well as the people of Jerlun, I have won the elections and am now a new Member of Parliament.

However, sadly enough, my victory is rendered meaningless in view of the defeat that Umno and the Kedah BN suffered in the hands of the opposition. Apart form Kedah, four other states as well as the Federal Territories also received similar humiliation in defeat.

In fact your own state of Penang was wrested by the DAP from the BN. Kelantan is again under Pas rules. In other states, the BN also suffered a similar humiliation when the level of BN support by the people has tremendously reduced. This, Datuk Seri, has never happened in the history of BN rule.

The sole intention of my letter to you is meant to save UMNO and BN from being rejected further by the people and from being no longer relevant to our religion, race and nation.

Dato’ Seri, the people are unhappy and the message from them is very clear, and that is they have rejected you as the nation’s chief executive.

Contrary to your claim that you still have the support of Umno and other component parties, the reality is that even our own party members had reneged in their voting pattern by supporting the Opposition and inflicting the BN its defeat.

Dato’ Seri, when the people held street demonstrations you openly dared them to resort to the ballot boxes to demonstrate.

They took your challenge by coming out, especially tho people in the Peninsular, and they demonstrated their feelings by voting us out at the BN at State and Parliament levels.

It is therefore clear that your leadership and your handling of the issues faced by the people and the nation are no longer accepted. Let’s not deny the truth just for the sake of keeping your seat as Prime Minister.

For the love of this country and the people, I beg that you take responsibility for the defeat. We can save UMNO, the BN and the nation only if you relinquish your positions as Prime Minister and the President of UMNO.

Dato’ Seri, I hope you will understand that I make this plea with the intention of salvaging a very dire situation. A move has been made to woo the BN representatives to join the Opposition. The enemy needs just 35 seats more to topple the government of your leadership.

If you do not resign in the near future, I fear that the situation will become untenable and that the Malay support for Umno and BN will be a thing of the past.

This plea I make without malice, and I am aware that your reaction and that of other UMNO members could very well be hostile.

But come what may, I am prepared, for the sake of the Malays and UMNO, to face the consequences of my action. With all humility, I leave my fate to Allah SWT.

Dato’ Seri, I am sure that you will do the right thing for the sake of the people and the nation. May Allah SWT bless you for the sacrifice you make by stepping down.

Wasallam

Yours Sincerely

Mukhriz Mahathir
Jerlun Member Parlament 
 

[Excerpt of letter taken from Rocky's Bru without his permission]