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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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The Kite Runner (2003)

by Khaled Hosseini

Other authors: Mirka Andolfo (Illustrator), Fabio Celoni (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Set in Afghanistan during the final days of the monarchy to the present as well as in America, this highly depressing, yet very well written novel, tells the tale of two boys, Amir and Hassan who grow up in Kabul. Amir's father is a successful businessman and philanthropist and well liked by all. Hassan is a Hazara, a person who is of Mongol descent and considered inferior. He and his father, Ali are the servants of Amir and his father. Ali and Amir's father, Baba grew up together like brothers in the same household. Amir and Hassan are friends but in a weird way. Some may not even call it a friendship. He only plays with Hassan when there was no one else around and he never lets Hassan play with his other friends. When Hassan doesn't know the definition of a word he gives him the opposite definition of the word. He would read to Hassan and since Hassan couldn't read he would change stories and make up something on the spot and Hassan never knew the difference. When he began to write his own stories, Hassan was the first person he read them to. Hassan, a sweet boy, accepted all of this was a kindness and grace and innocence. He rarely saw the cruelties Amir put him through.

Amir and his father had a strained relationship. Amir's mother died in childbirth and in a way his father blamed him for it perhaps. Also, Amir was not athletic like he was. Amir preferred the world of books and writing stories which his father didn't understand. Also, Amir did not know how to stand up for himself and fight. He was protected by his father's name for the most part by the bullies. But one day he and Hassan are accosted by the worst bully there was: Assef, whose parents were each German and Afghanistan. He believed Hitler was right and that ethnic cleansing needed to take place which meant the Hazaras had to go. But he was there that day with his two friends and his brass knuckles to deliver a beating to Amir. However, Hassan stops him with his trusty slingshot by threatening to take out his eye with a rock if he doesn't back off. Assef leaves them alone but vows that he will get them back for this someday.

The day of the big kite race, Amir cuts down his share of kites our of the sky and is the last kite flying. Hassan, the kite runner, goes after the last kite to fall in order to truly make them champions and Hassan is a master kite runner. After Amir puts his kite away he goes in search of Hassan and at first cannot find him but when he does he wishes he hadn't. Assef and his two boys have cornered him in an alley with the kite. He says that he'll let Hassan go if he'll give him the kite. Hassan says no. They beat and then rape Hassan while Amir watches and does nothing. Amir runs off before being detected and "runs into" Hassan in the streets farther down. Neither boy says anything about what happened. Hassan has no idea that Amir saw. All Amir had earlier been able to think about was getting that kite to his father and finally having his father be proud of him. Now that is tainted.

Amir can't sleep and when he does he has nightmares. He can't handle being around Hassan anymore. It makes him feel guilty and he wants Hassan to punish him for not doing anything. This is when Hassan figures out that he was there. Amir desperately wants Hassan to leave so he doesn't have to deal with his guilt anymore. So he plants his watch and some money under Hassan's pillow and says that Hassan stole it. Baba brings in Ali, Hassan, and Amir to talk about it and Hassan confesses to the stealing. Baba had told Amir that stealing is the worst thing you could possibly do, but when faced with this he says that he will let it slide this time. But Ali tells him that they are leaving. Hassan has told Ali everything, including what Amir has done and seen. Baba is heartbroken and begs them to stay but Ali will not be swayed.

Pretty soon the Soviets invade the country and Amir and Baba escape from Kabul to Pakistan and then the United States where they begin a whole new life. But Afghanistan is not done with Amir. His father's old business partner and the man who often offered him fatherly advice and an ear to listen, Rahim Khan, contacts him about Hassan and a chance to redeem himself for that one day.

Amir is a hard person to like, while you cannot help but love Hassan and wonder why he remains so blindly devoted to Amir. Amir is a bit of a spoiled brat with a weak character who lies easily. Hassan is open, honest, and loyal and would do anything for those he cares about. Also, the number of depressing things that happen in this book are pretty numerous. It is a dark book about a dark time in Afghanistan's history, but not all of the sad things happen in Afghanistan. They happen in America too. I will tell you this, though. It does not have a depressing ending. You will not throw this book at your wall when you finish it if you make it that far. It is a very well written book so I'm not telling you to not read it. Just go in with eyes open.

Quotes
The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.

-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 15)

Baba used to say, “Take two Afghans who’ve never met, put them in a room for ten minutes, and they’ll figure out how they’re related.”

-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 251)

This isn’t you, Amir, part of me said. You’re gutless. It’s how you were made. And that’s not such a bad thing because your saving grace is that you’ve never lied to yourself about it. Not about that. Nothing wrong with cowardice as long as it comes with prudence. But when a coward stops remembering who he is…God help him.

-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 275)

There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.

-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 318)

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with fanfare or epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.

-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 359) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Apr 12, 2017 |
A beautifully written, evocative novel of growing up in a society riven by war, betrayals and efforts toward redemption. Afghanistan in the mid 1970's serves as the early backdrop as two young friends, star-crossed by class yet inseparable, fly their kites with an innocence shattered by violence and moral failing.

The movie captured the essence of this haunting tale, yet the book is where the nuances come to the surface on every page. ( )
  MarkDSwartz | Apr 11, 2017 |
The Kite Runner (Paperback) by Khaled Hosseini is a book I wish I had NOT read. It was openly brutal and dark all the way through the book. I suppose it was meant to show how bad it was with the Taliban but I had no idea that all of this violence was going to be in the book. All the reviews just raved about how wonderful it was but no one said anything about the brutality. There is a rape of a young child, a boy, and he is one of the main characters of the story. It was very disturbing scene. There are many beatings, executions, and so much more violence in this book that after I finished this book, I had to read two fun books to get the horrific images out of my head! No blurb to warn the reader of all this. I can say that there are few books I hate and this is one, and I have read plenty of books! ( )
  MontzaleeW | Apr 3, 2017 |
Khaled Hosseini was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and his first novel "The Kite Runner" invites the reader into the heart of the exotic middle eastern Muslim world. The book cover offers a series of accolades using descriptive words like: haunting, powerful, riveting, unforgettable, extraordinary, and astonishing. "The Kite Runner" is truly all these things.... and more.

As the story begins, it is 2001 and the protagonist Amir is a successful writer, happily married, living in San Francisco. Amir receives a phone call from an old acquaintance beckoning him to come back to the world of his childhood to handle a crisis.

When Amir left Afghanistan in 1981 he was a teenager, escaping the Russian invasion - he and his well-to-do father fled leaving all their worldly belongings behind. Amidst chaos and destruction they made their way to America. Unfortunately, history was not kind to Amir’s homeland. When the Russians were eventually chased out by muslim jihadist guerrilla fighters (the Taliban) things only got worse. The Taliban had Nazi mentality - confiscating land, banning all actions and activities that contradicted their strict warped sense of religions law and social order. They practiced routine brutality for the merest violation - something as harmless as speaking too loud in public. They were also guilty of ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

Amir vividly recalls his childhood - before all the trouble began, the pleasures he took for granted: the luxurious home, the comfort of having servants, the sumptuous food, the scent of the sweet flowering trees, the beauty of the countryside, the joy of playing with his best friend Hassan. Especially the annual tradition of the kite festival.

Leaving that world behind to migrate to the Untied States they struggled from day to day for food and shelter. And as time passed, they adjusted. Amir thought that was all behind him now, and frankly, some things happened in Afghanistan that he would rather not remember. Horrible things. Things he is now ashamed of. But life has a funny way of seeking retribution, many times offering circumstances that give one the opportunity to find redemption... and that is what Amir seeks as he heads back to his homeland Afghanistan.

Aside from revealing intimate details about everyday customs in the Muslim household, and the culture of Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the years of 1970 and 2001 - the reader views the evolution of the peaceful prosperous area deteriorating to a war torn country with bombed out buildings with starving homeless citizens. The story brings faces to the enemy, and sympathy for the innocent victims. Themes include the priceless value of family and traditions. And the ever present opposing forces of good and evil. "The Kite Runner" is a heartbreaking story of one man’s journey to find his own inner peace amidst all the chaos. ( )
  LadyLo | Feb 6, 2017 |
Woww, this book is like an experience. I felt it was also like those screens in the stock market or the heart monitor. There are those moments when feel like the journey's not worth it, and it again picks up, brings you back with such force and an interest... It truly makes you feel that it's worth staying on the path, do that for some more time and you shall see the light
...

Thank you Khaled, I don't know if it's appropriate to use jan here, if it is then, Thank you Khaled jan. :) ( )
  Swaroop101 | Jan 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 982 (next | show all)
The Kite Runner begins in Afghanistan with a boy named Amir and his father living happy but after the threat of Soviet forces they flee to America then soon after in the book, Amir's father dies. Later on in the story Amir is wedded to his wife but then he is called upon by his fathers old friend to return to Afghanistan and then later on he ends up saving a boy, the son of a child hood friend, named Sohrab and that gives Amir his redemption
added by CRosss | editLos Angeles Times, Cameron.Ross (Sep 10, 2014)
 
The Kite Runner is about the price of peace, both personal and political, and what we knowingly destroy in our hope of achieving that, be it friends, democracy or ourselves.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Observer, Amelia Hill (Sep 7, 2003)
 
At times, the book suffers from relentless earnestness and somewhat hackneyed descriptions. But Hosseini has a remarkable ability to imprison the reader in horrific, shatteringly immediate scenes... The result is a sickening sensation of complicity.
added by Shortride | editTime, Aryn Baker (Sep 1, 2003)
 
This powerful first novel, by an Afghan physician now living in California, tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love.
 
Khaled Hosseini was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and his first novel "The Kite Runner" invites the reader into the heart of the exotic middle eastern Muslim world. The book cover offers a series of accolades using descriptive words like: haunting, powerful, riveting, unforgettable, extraordinary, and astonishing. "The Kite Runner" is truly all these things.... and more.

As the story begins, it is 2001 and the protagonist Amir is a successful writer, happily married, living in San Francisco. Amir receives a phone call from an old acquaintance beckoning him to come back to the world of his childhood to handle a crisis.

When Amir left Afghanistan in 1981 he was a teenager, escaping the Russian invasion - he and his well-to-do father fled leaving all their worldly belongings behind. Amidst chaos and destruction they made their way to America. Unfortunately, history was not kind to Amir’s homeland. When the Russians were eventually chased out by muslim jihadist guerrilla fighters (the Taliban) things only got worse. The Taliban had Nazi mentality - confiscating land, banning all actions and activities that contradicted their strict warped sense of religions law and social order. They practiced routine brutality for the merest violation - something as harmless as speaking too loud in public. They were also guilty of ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

Amir vividly recalls his childhood - before all the trouble began, the pleasures he took for granted: the luxurious home, the comfort of having servants, the sumptuous food, the scent of the sweet flowering trees, the beauty of the countryside, the joy of playing with his best friend Hassan. Especially the annual tradition of the kite festival.

Leaving that world behind to migrate to the Untied States they struggled from day to day for food and shelter. And as time passed, they adjusted. Amir thought that was all behind him now, and frankly, some things happened in Afghanistan that he would rather not remember. Horrible things. Things he is now ashamed of. But life has a funny way of seeking retribution, many times offering circumstances that give one the opportunity to find redemption... and that is what Amir seeks as he heads back to his homeland Afghanistan.

Aside from revealing intimate details about everyday customs in the Muslim household, and the culture of Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the years of 1970 and 2001 - the reader views the evolution of the peaceful prosperous area deteriorating to a war torn country with bombed out buildings with starving homeless citizens. The story brings faces to the enemy, and sympathy for the innocent victims. Themes include the priceless value of family and traditions. And the ever present opposing forces of good and evil. "The Kite Runner" is a heartbreaking story of one man’s journey to find his own inner peace amidst all the chaos.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Khaled Hosseiniprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andolfo, MirkaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Celoni, FabioIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bourgeois, ValérieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horn, Miebeth vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Middelthon, Elisabet W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo Fort, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Naujokat, AngelikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, JohanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vaj, IsabellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windgassen, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is dedicated to
Haris and Farah, both
the noor of my eyes,
and to the children
of Afghanistan.
First words
I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.
Quotations
I see now that Baba was wrong, there is a God, there always had been. I see Him here, in the eyes of the people in this corridor of desperation. This is the real house of God, this is where those who have lost God will find Him, not the white masjid, with its bright diamond lights and towering minarets. There is a God, there has to be, and now I will pray, I will pray that He forgive that I have neglected Him all of these years, forgive that I have betrayed, lied, and sinned with impunity only to turn to him in my hour of need.
For you, a thousand times over.
I see America has infused you with the optimism that has made her so great.
"But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie".
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
This novel presents life in Afghanistan before the revolution and the Russian invasion. The author describes the customs and culture of the Afghan people and the difficulty of immigrants trying to adapt to American life. Most of all, this is a story of friendship, family, betrayal, and redemption. There are intense images, but the book is very powerful and well-written. The 2007 movie was based on this book.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0747566534, Paperback)

In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present. 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 it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies.… (more)

» see all 28 descriptions

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