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The Kite Runner  By  cover art

The Kite Runner

By: Khaled Hosseini
Narrated by: Khaled Hosseini
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Editorial review


By Seth Hartman, Audible Editor

THE KITE RUNNER CONTINUES TO SOAR

Like many of my favorite titles, The Kite Runner came into my life when I was in middle school. The novel was sold to me as a coming-of-age tale set in a changing Afghanistan. While that is technically a solid gist, author Khaled Hosseini’s masterwork is so much more than that.

This story centers around Amir, a sensitive boy born into a wealthy Afghan family. The Kite Runner begins in the year 1973, a very tumultuous time in Afghanistan. Amir’s upbringing in the idyllic Kabul region is undercut by the rumblings of political upheaval. As the government faced a swift coup d’etat by the king’s ambitious cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan, wealthy citizens all over Afghanistan fled as quickly as possible. Amid all of this turmoil, Amir is separated from his servant and friend Hassan after the latter is sexually assaulted. While Amir’s family would escape inside an oil tanker, Hassan is left behind as the revolution takes hold. A good novel would build up to this massive climax and leave it there, but The Kite Runner takes a much more nuanced approach. Amir experiences this trauma from a young age and is then suddenly dumped in America, forced to cope with survivor’s guilt while adjusting to a totally new culture. His journey then becomes a bid to accept his surroundings, grow into the man he hopes to be, and address his checkered past.

I have always been a huge fan of historical fiction. Something about experiencing key moments in time through an intimate perspective just works for me. Listening to the audiobook, Khaled Hosseini's narration adds yet another layer of context to the story. Imagine my surprise, then, when The Kite Runner pulled away from Afghanistan and introduced a culture shock element to the plot. The beauty of this title comes not just from its intricate setting descriptions and steady character development, but also from this tonal shift. This title has something for everyone, but is especially relevant for people who have dealt with a lot of change in their lives.

I will never forget where I was when I first experienced this section of The Kite Runner. I bought the book in the airport for an international flight and cracked it open while waiting for my flight to board. By the time I was on the plane, I was an absolute puddle. My young brain struggled to comprehend such an extreme level of social unrest and the human cost of political upheaval. Despite these unpleasant feelings, I was ready to dive deeper into this beautiful yet demanding story. This is not a tale about bravery, or defying odds, or even revenge in the traditional sense. This is a story about one man’s hope to redeem himself in the eyes of his oldest friend, and if that is not possible, at least do some good in the world for once.

Continue reading Seth's review >

Publisher's summary

Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara - a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons - their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But through the devastation, Khaled Hosseini offers hope for redemption.

©2003 Khaled Hosseini (P)2003 Simon & Schuster Inc. All Rights Reserved. AUDIOWORKS. is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division. Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic reviews

  • Alex Award Winner, 2004

"A beautiful novel...ranks among the best-written and most provocative stories of the year." (The Denver Post)
"Powerful first novel...tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love." (The New York Times)

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