kite runnerFebruary 2008

This month we discussed a book that has received widespread praise and been made into a popular film. We could see the reasons for its success and we all loved it.

The Kite Runner, a debut novel by Khaled Hosseini, explores the nature of friendship, forgiveness and redemption against the turbulent background of his native Afghanistan. Narrated by Amir, a 40 year- old writer living in California, this powerful story shows the corrosiveness of moral dishonesty, but it does offer a message of hope that although we may make mistakes there will be opportunities for atonement.

Throughout a privileged and happy childhood, Amir strives to please his beloved father though continually aware that, unlike his boyhood companion Hassan, he is not the strong, outgoing son that his father would have liked. On the day of the kite competition which he wins thus at last earning his father’s pride, he witnesses a dreadful act of abuse of his old friend, but has not the courage to go to Hassan’s aid. The guilt he experiences stays with him for the rest of his life.

Years later after a hair-raising escape from Afghanistan with his father, our narrator hears from an old friend in Pakistan who offers him a “way to be good again”. Amir returns to his homeland to try and save Hassan’s son, Sohrab. In the last section the personal and the political get entangled as Amir tries to extricate Sohrab from his desperate situation in Taliban-dominated Afghanistan.

Above all this is a very moving and beautifully written story which also gave us an insight into an Afghan history and culture that is larger and more complex than the crude stereotypes fed to us by our media. In fact the novel was so compelling that some of us felt a desire to be on the next plane to Afghanistan!

We next meet on 13 March when we will be discussing The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

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