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Book 51: Afghanistan (English) – The Kite Runner (Khaled HOSSEINI)

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.

Probably most people have read this best-selling novel by now, but I hadn’t, so this was the perfect excuse. It’s one that really tugs at the heart-strings. Sometimes it’s actually pleasurable to wallow in a good tear-jerker!
In my country kite-flying is the most peaceful pastime you could imagine, but in some places, like Malaysia and Afghanistan, it’s an aggressive competitive sport. Set during Afghanistan’s tumultuous history of the fall of the monarchy, the USSR invasion and war and the rise of the Taliban, it’s the story of an asymmetrical friendship between two boys, and of betrayal. Rich Amir wins a kite battle due to his loyal servant friend Hassan’s skill as a kite runner (finding and putting his opponents’ kites hors de combat). Amir is subsequently long haunted by an act of cowardice and eventually tries to make amends. There are also strong overtones of class (Amir upper class, Hassan servant) and race relations (Amir Pashtun, Hassan Hazara). What I love about the novel is the tireless attempts to overcome all these barriers and to live morally. No doubt it’s not the greatest literature but it is such a touching book that I can understand why it became a world-wide bestseller.
The author, Khaled Hosseini, had to flee Afghanistan for the US in 1980.


HOSSEINI, Khaled (خالد حسیني) (1965 – ), The Kite Runner, London, Bloomsbury, 2013 (ISBN 978 0 7475 6653 3)