The Kite Runner, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, is based in the marauding towns of Afghanistan; right from the sacking of monarchy until the downfall of the ruthless Taliban. The story is about the protagonist, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman and Hasan, the son of his father’s servant cum closest-friend. Amir spends his tranquil childhood playing with Hasan, picking pomegranates, shining mirrors, reading books and flying kites. The boy Hasan is a Hazara, a good “kite runner” who can retrieve a fallen kite at a quicker speed than anyone else.
Although the servants are poor, Amir’s father treats them almost like his own family. Hasan is humble, brave, loyal and generous, admired by Amir’s father. This complicates Amir’s own relationship with his Baba. Amir gradually becomes jealous of Hasan and insecure winning his Baba’s acceptance.
With the running of time, Amir witnesses a ghastly crime committed against Hasan but does not come to Hasan’s defence. This guilt and not acknowledging his sin at the right time haunts Amir for a lifetime.
Therefore, the novel brings out some underlying themes of strong bonds of friendship, power of love, betrayal, forgiveness and subsequent redemption. The plot of the novel takes us with the portraying of Amir’s childhood in Afghanistan, then to San Francisco where Amir and his father begin their new life. Here, Amir finds himself taking care of Baba instead of the other way round. Amir’s life becomes a struggle there but gradually finds light when Amir finds a publisher for his first book.
The fight of Hazara- an ethnic minority group in Afghanistan is also highlighted in the main plot. The sub-plot constitutes Soraya, the woman in Amir’s life. He gets married to her, but unfortunately, they are unable to have children. The telephone call one day from his old friend takes Amir back to Afghanistan which has changed; a place now, where the Taliban rules ruthlessly. Its is here that he faces betrayal; secrets are uncovered and also fights the Taliban. This adventure ultimately leads to his salvation.
Hosseini tells the story simply, developing the character’s importance and essence with pace. Its tone is retrospective and first-hand. The book is powerful, painful to read and heart-breaking. Hosseini finishes it off with a glint of hope and starting of life in a new way. His style of writing is quick, simple, stunning and expressionful. We can almost feel the pain gradually while reading. He uses less of imagery to avoid confusion. The novel looks like a club of diary entries. It also highlights some social issues like rigidity of religion, cruel effects of war, exploitation, child rape and molestation and man always thinking himself at par with God.
Holistically, it is a sweeping story where things like love, empathy, hope, realization and honesty always triumphs over the wrong and evil.
Amy Parineeta Mukherji