The Kite Runner, by Kahled Hosseini

November 5, 2011 at 15:52 (Adventure, Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, War and Politics) (, , , )


The Kite Runner is one of those rare things in modern literature: a good story about a human being. It does not rely upon unlikely coincidences or fantasies played off as a glamorous counter-culture existence; Hosseini does not drape a limp and flacid series of lukewarm adventures around an unlikely plot twist or a vivid but stereotyped hero. He has a very interesting and tragic story to tell about a boy and his father, and he tells it very well. He is not the cleverest author in the world, and his prose is not immune from occasional hiccups or dullness. His dialogue is sometimes a little crooked, and his habit of reverting to sudden italicised memories for a half page can be distracting: amateur, even. But through this, he manages to place his characters in an intriguing and historic setting, a stage bursting with life and dazzling colours and (for the western reader) mystery: and he does it without sacrificing or even lessening his chief goal of placing the twisted and conflicted heart of a young boy growing into guilty adulthood firmly in the centre of attention.

It is important to be clear: Khaled Hosseini is an excellent writer, and this book is incredibly good. He is not afraid of tragedy, and he seems not to feel the pressure to solve every problem he has raised throughout the book. In this sense he writes realism very well. There is closure, but only in spots; and he seems to relish his unanswered questions, even coming back to them and framing them in the mouths of new characters. He writes foreshadowing like a creative writing student–“and that was the last time that I ever saw him…again”–but works this heavyhandedness into the voice of his narrator, who dwells on such turning points and important moments broodingly.

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.”

-The Kite Runner

Philosophically, Hosseini mixes in an unpolished idea of fate and forgiveness, of the nature of God and the nature of belief, and vague kharmic principles, but readers hoping to find enlightenment in these pages will find (fittingly) only the confused thoughts of a badly wounded boy. Hosseini’s success in raising interesting questions without breaking out of the mould he has set for himself and preaching through his character is remarkable, even if it creates some frustrating moments where the narrator insists on talking nonsense.

This book clearly deserves most of the praise it has been given: if it has weaknesses, they are not fatal, and they are outnumbered by the book’s strengths; if it has unpalatable or dull or frustrating moments, these are subjective to the temperament of the reader. Not yet a masterpiece, but a rich and compelling book.

1 Comment

  1. Tracey Baell said,

    Just wanted to reply and say nice site, great to read from people who know what they are talking about.

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