Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashums. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
My take on it: What can I say? I’m not a professional book reviewer – I read a lot but rarely review the books I read anywhere. So I don’t have all the fancy terms about “flavor” and “colonized” and “ensconced.”
It’s a tough read. Not because of the writing, which is very good, but because of the themes. She’s Never Coming Back is a book about evil and rape and abuse in a different country, and it’s trash and you shouldn’t waste your time on it. The Kite Runner is a book about evil and rape and abuse in a different country, and so much more, and everyone should read it. I learned about Afghanistan. I mourn for the casualties of their wars, the suffering children especially. I reveled in the rich cultural descriptions that made the people seem so much more than their wars. I hated reading it, and I loved it, and I’d do it again. It will ask you:
- what will you do to fight the evil in the world?
- how will you take care of the one who says to you, for you, a thousand times over?
To make me think about my time with my kids, the son wondered
why it was always grown-ups’ time with him [his father].
[I] ached for the mother I had never met…
And that right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last.
I wanted to be just like Baba and I wanted to be nothing like him.
So much here to learn and meditate on about the big relationships in our lives. When he’d treated Hassan badly,
I almost apologized, then didn’t. Hassan understood I was just nervous. Hassan always understood about me.
I was the one who went to school, the one who could read, write. I was the smart one. Hassan couldn’t read a first-grade textbook but he’d read me plenty. That was a little unsettling but also sort of comfortable to have someone who always knew what you needed.
Everywhere I turned, I saw signs of his loyalty.
He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?
The general didn’t let his wife sing:
Every woman needed a husband. Even if he did silence the song in her.
Caught between Baba and the mullahs at school, I still hadn’t made up my mind about God.
If Baba was wrong and there was a God like they said in school, then He’d let me win.
Bowing my head to the ground I…asked for kindness from a God I wasn’t sure existed. I envied the mullah now, envied his faith and certainty.
One caller from Finland, a guy named Ayub, asked if his teenaged son could go to hell for wearing his baggy pants so low the seam of his underwear shoed. The mullahs decided that Ayub’s son would go to hell after all for wearing his pants the way he did.
(You scoff or think it’s just radical Muslims, but I went to college with “Christians” who were pretty sure I was going to hell because I wore pants at all… though not at school, of course. That would’ve gotten me 10 demerits and a visit to the Discipline Committee.)
I know it sounds childish, but the first time Ziba wrote her own letter, I knew there was nothing else I’d ever want to be but a teacher. I was so proud of her and I felt I’d done something really worthwhile, you know?
daughter: “[In a newly free Afghanistan] they’d need teachers too.”
dad: “Anyone can teach.” (he wanted her to be a lawyer/politician)
I barely had time to register that she’d addressed me with “tu” for the first time and not the formal “shoma“
About America, and culture, and the rich:
jeans– cowboy pants, we used to call them. In Afghanistan, owning anything American, especially if it wasn’t secondhand, was a sign of wealth.
[back in Afghanistan, someone from a lower class says to him] You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it.
I told him that in America you could step into a grocery store and buy any of fifteen or twenty different types of cereal. The lamb was always fresh and the milk cold, the fruit plentiful and the water clear. Every home had a TV, and every TV had a remote, and you could get a satellite dish if you wanted. Receive over five hundred channels.
And some last random quotes,
Looking at a photo:
I tried to conjure Ali’s frozen face, to really see his tranquil eyes, but time can be a greedy thing–sometimes it steals all the details for itself.
After an execution for adultery, by stoning, as the halftime show at a soccer game, simply,
Second half was under way.
A psychopath’s take on his massacre,
‘let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, knowing you are virtuous, good, and decent. Knowing you’re doing God’s work. It’s breathtaking.’ He kissed the prayer beads.
It’s amazing how people who think that Hitler was an anomaly don’t realize that there are actually so many people who live out the evil inside them, with gusto. And then ISIS comes along and beheads people and spreads the videos on the internet and we finally start throwing around the word evil again. Because the heads were Western, and there were videos. And we don’t like videos. Not ones with real beheadings.
How shall we then fight?