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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


THE KITE RUNNER By Khaled Hosseini. 324 Pages. Riverhead Books.

There are books and there are books. Some take you on unforgettable journeys, others are best forgotten. Some leave you gasping for breath; others make you wonder why they were written in the first place.

Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' clearly belongs to the first category. It's been sitting on my book shelf for some months now. In that ever growing pile of must read books. One of the reasons I put off reading it for so long could be the whole journey with Yasmina Khadra's 'The Swallows of Kabul'. The book was so beautifully written, yet so profoundly disturbing, that I needed a breather before embarking on another Afghan adventure.

Thought it would take me much longer to read Hosseini's powerful first novel. I couldn't have been more wrong.

You start and you are hooked from the word go.

The soul-searching narrative is a historical sweep of a country devastated by conflicts. A tale of relationships - between fathers and sons, it is at another level a story of friendship and betrayal. One that starts with two motherless boys Amir and Hassan, who are inseparable at birth and during their childhood years. Amir is the son of a rich father, Hassan, the son of his father's servant.

It's a fragile relationship and the threads that bind them are symbolized by the kites the boys fly together. It is during the kite flying festival that their relationship is severely tested. Amir betrays his servant and best friend when he is being troubled by the well-off neighbourhood boys. Then with some carefully manipulated lies conjured to hide his own troubled truths Hassan ensures that their old way of life disappears.

The tale which has an almost Shakespearean beginning then takes you to America amid all the political upheavals taking place in Afghanistan. Amir and his father have to flee their land when the Russians take control.

It is in America, that Amir becomes a successful writer and embraces the country as it "had no ghosts, no memories, and no sins."

The journey back home happens for Amir when he learns of a childhood mentor who is ailing back home. The Taliban is now in control and the hazardous journey is worth every single step as it helps Amir atone for his past sins.

The soul-searching narrative makes it impossible to read this searing novel in one go, but it is well worth the meandering journey.

The prose is provocative and it comes as little surprise that 'The Kite Runner' - the movie is already in the works. Scheduled for release in 2007, it's to be directed by Marc Forster with the screenplay being penned by David Benioff.