The Kite-Runner

When this book first came out, I wasn’t all too interested in reading it. I guess I had had a bit of an Afghan overload from spending the summer of ’01 binging on books about the Afghan-Soviet war, and then the aftermath of 9/11 put a lid on my interest. The daily knowledge that mud-huts were being bombed into oblivion made it impossible for me to appreciate a fictitious account of war, any war. Well, a couple months ago, my sister brought home the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by the same author of “The Kite-Runner” and I decided to give it a whirl. It made me cry bucket-loads and I decided that I would seize the first opportunity I got to read “The Kite Runner.”

This book has been playing hide and seek with me at the library for months. Just when I had given hope of getting it from the library, there it was, sitting calmly on the shelf. Seize it I did. And it’s been sitting on my shelf the past month, because as usual, I checked out more books than I could handle. This weekend, I realized I had to renew it after three weeks of letting it languish, and I decided to clear my shelf and just leave this one book behind. I spent the last couple of days reading it, and wow, it was such a good book. More than anything else, it is, to me, a story about childhood coming full circle in adulthood. It is all about dealing with the conflicts of the heart, of society, of history, and of culture. Perhaps, it’s most obviously a story of redemption.

I found it interesting how the author dealt with religion. He depicted the ones who are Muslim-in-name as well as those who believe in the principles of Islam. He depicted the confusion and selfishness of the irreligious, and the humility and selflessness of the religious (although those depictions might also be viewed in the context of class distinctions). And I couldn’t help noticing that the few Taliban characters described in the book were devoutly irreligious from childhood, having a gained a useful position in adulthood that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with convenient access to power.

Many of you have probably already read this book, and I am as usual the last in line to read books that are on everyone’s to-do list. It was worth my time, and I am glad I waited a while to read it.

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5 Responses to The Kite-Runner

  1. Umm Travis says:

    welcome back 🙂

    it makes me sad though how Islam is portrayed to the West in books such as these….

    May Allah guide us all.

    Ameen

  2. Thank you! 🙂 Ameen! I really read it more as a portrayal of Muslims than of Islam.

  3. Hey salaams!

    The Kite Runner is one of the best books I have read! I also could relate to the characters in the book fairly well – I have afghan roots in my family, and certain characters are live and kicking even in this day and age. The cultures and traditions are still vibrant, and the mentality of part-afghan folk still holds strong to this day!

    I’ve got the movie somewhere, I should really watch it someday.

    Wa’asalama

  4. queenie says:

    I haven’t read A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I did read The Kite Runner and I actually did not like the book at all. SigFig and I read it together, and while the story was “ok”, I felt like it had way too much drama for me to relate to it. There was something about the writing and language style that I felt was not…. sincere (for a lack of a better word).
    I wrote a little about it here (mini-spoiler alert) http://the-coffeehouse.blogspot.com/2008/02/spoiler-alert-maybe-sorta-kinda.html

  5. Cookie Monster, To be honest, I didn’t read it as a completely accurate portrayal of Afghani culture, while there were some descriptions of the culture/mentality that I did recognize from other readings of the culture.

    queenie, I think you will find A Thousand Splendid Suns even more difficult to relate to…the drama in TSS is about ten-fold more, and you have to be in a masochistic frame of mind to be able to read it. The part that you wrote about, yeah, I too had a difficult time reading through it. Interestingly, it is pretty much for those very sections that some people want the book banned in the States (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/16/kite-runner-penguins-censorship). Do you know what really annoyed me about this book? The main character’s childhood persona was just too whiny. I could barely tolerate him. His transformation through to adulthood was more tolerable, but only just.

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