The book is written by Khaled Hosseini, an Afghan, living in America since 1980. The Kite Runner was his first novel, and it was published in 2003. The Kite Runner has also been made into a movie, and it is coming to cinemas in Norway in January 2008.
The book is about the boy Amir and his life from childhood in Kabul, Afghanistan from before the revolution and up to his life in America in 2001. We get to see how his actions in the childhood, haunts him up to the present.
In his childhood, Amir had problems gaining the love and affection of his father, Baba. He felt like his father was blaming him for the death of Amir’s mother. She died giving birth to Amir. Through his childhood up to 1975, he and his best friend Hassan did everything together. Playing, going to the cinemas and going up to the pomegranate tree on the hill behind the house, where Amir used to read stories to Hassan.
Every winter, during the holidays in Afghanistan, a kite tournament took place. Hundreds of kite flyers were competing to be the best kite flyer. The point was to cut the line on the others’ kites, and to be the last kite in the air. When a kite was cut, it would get out of control, and blown away. The kids, who didn’t fly kites, would run to catch the lost kite, and the one catching it would be the one keeping it. These kids would be called Kite Runners. Hassan was a great kite runner, not only did he run fast, he also was great predicting where it would land. In the winter of 1975, Amir won the tournament, and as he cut the last kite, Hassan went to catch it. When he didn’t return, Amir went to look for him, finding him in a back alley, getting raped and beaten by the bully, Assef. Amir chose not to interfere, a decision he would regret for the rest of his life. After this he didn’t speak much to Hassan anymore, because of his terrible guilt. After an attempt to get rid of Hassan, he succeeds, and Hassan and his father leave for good.
In 1981 Amir and Baba fled Afghanistan, and went to Pakistan. After a few months, they move to Freemont in California. After a few years, Baba dies and Amir marries an Afghani girl named Soraya. They are living a happy life in San Francisco, Amir as a publisher and Soraya as a teacher, until Baba’s friend from Afghanistan, Rahim Khan, calls saying he is sick. Amir goes to Pakistan to see him. Amir then gets to learn about many lies he have been living on his entire life. That Hassan really was his half brother was maybe the biggest surprise. Hassan has been killed by Taliban officers, leaving behind him a child at the age of ten. Amir decides to go back to Kabul to find this kid, Sohrab. Here, he faces an old acquaintance, Assef as a Taliban officer. He takes Sohrab with him out of the country and then decides to adopt him. He faces a lot of problems with bureaucracy, and it becomes very difficult to get this accomplished. Through the end of the book, he is having problems reaching out to Sohrab.
Amir as a kid is a boy, having problems getting the affection and love from his father. He tries hard, but only when he wins the kite contest in 1975, he achieves this. But then he has other problems to worry about, so he never has any time to enjoy it. He describes himself as a coward, with no guts whatsoever. Although Hassan is his best friend, he sometimes feels superior to him, mocking him for his illiteracy and ignorance. He didn’t know any women until he fell in love with Soraya, and he says himself that this is what makes him different from all the other Afghan men. He enjoyed making stories, and wrote a lot of short stories in the book he got from Rahim Khan.
Hassan is the son of Ali, Baba’s servant. He is a Hazara boy, and he is often victim of racism and oppression because of this. He is a lot like the opposite of Amir. He is very brave, heroic, unselfish and loyal, and he is also not very sophisticated, and never went to any school until years after the parting from Amir. When Amir asks him to bring him the kite he cut in the competition, he answers; “For you, a thousand times over”. This line single-handedly describes the loyalty he has to his friend; after all, he is the son of a servant. He was loyal to the end, and when Amir tries to frame him for stealing, he says it was him, to keep Amir out of trouble.
Baba is the father of Amir. He is a very rich man in Afghanistan, living in a big house, driving an American car, and having several employees. Through Amir’s childhood, he seems to be disappointed of his son, blaming him for the death of his wife. After his decease, when we meet his friend, Rahim Khan again, we learn that he didn’t feel very good about himself, and that he had problems treating his son and his secret son equally. That also explains why he had a much better relationship with Hassan when they came to America. The transition to America and American culture was very difficult on Baba. He had left his life as a rich person in Afghanistan, and started a new life in America, working at a gas station. He died as a happy man, knowing that his legacy would get carried on with his then married son.
Rahim Khan was Baba’s best friend in Afghanistan. To Amir he seemed more like a second father. He paid a great interest in Amir and Amir’s stories. He is a smart and reasonable man, giving advice to both Baba and Amir. He encourages Amir to writing more stories. When we meet him in again in Pakistan, he is the voice of truth. He’s admitting to all the lies committed by Baba through the time.
Assef is the “Bad guy” in the story. Bottom down, it’s because of him the severance of Amir and Hassan takes place. As a kid, he is the bully in the neighborhood, wanting to teach younger kids a lesson in respect. Ironically enough we meet him once again as a Taliban officer, abusing the son of an earlier victim.
Soraya is the woman, who ends up marrying Amir. She is a caring person, as we can see on how she treats Baba when he is very sick. She has very much in common with Amir. She has a difficult past, that haunts her, and she has some issues with her father.
The writer uses very effective agents when telling the story. We can see when he uses words from his mother tongue to give us the impression of being in Afghanistan, or in an Afghan environment. When he describes environments and people, he often uses comparisons to things the reader knows or has heard of before.
The book is a great story of a boy, portraying his life as a child, in the pre-revolutionized Afghanistan, and up to his life in America in the 21st century. His characters really have personality, and you feel like you get to know the main character in the story. If I should describe the book with just one word, I would have to quote Rahim Khan; “Bravo!”