Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I knew that this was a well-known, well-liked book before I started reading it, but I didn’t really know too much about it. It’s the story of Amir, who grows up in Afghanistan before the Taliban, before the Russian invasion, and his relationship with Hasan, a boy who is both friend and servant, belonging to a lower caste racial group. The book spans Amir’s childhood and adulthood and shows his flight from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation his life in America and his return to his homeland to rescue Hasan’s son.

The story is partly autobiographical (or at least, the background is) and is often very moving. It stretches belief a little – especially where Amir escapes the Taliban with Hasan’s son – but generally maintains the suspension of disbelief. It also highlights a lot of Afghan culture and history and is full of italicised terms in the original language (Persian, I think).

The novel is at its best in the early stages, when Amir is a child living in Kabul with his wealthy, highly respected father. They live in a large house in a well-off area. In a hut in the back garden, live their servant and his son, Hasan. The crux of this part of the book is painful and realistic and sets up the plot and emotional struggles of the rest of the novel. The story loses a little momentum when Amir and his father move to the US, and their difficult relationship mellows. Then there is the far-fetched adventure to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

As a novel, it’s an easy read. It’s solid, journeyman-like mainstream American fiction. The writing is not bad, but nothing special. It’s a tear-jerker, and a mostly successful one, but one that I didn’t warm to greatly. The book moves from one heart-breaking episode to another in a way that isn’t quite manipulative, but is rather simplistic – it’s a bit of a one-trick pony. Another thing I didn’t like is that the narrator, Amir, is always hoping to be a writer and when he submits his first manuscript – it’s accepted. The suspension of disbelief broke for me there.

The Kite Runner is a decent book, but nothing special. I felt that anyone with an ounce of writing skill could have written it. But I didn’t mind reading it, either.

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Categories: Literature, Reviews
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