The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a story about a memory by a man named Amir. The memory is of his youth, as a boy living in Afghanistan. The story discusses the hardship and frequently graphic nature of life in Afghanistan. The novel has also been adapted into a movie, directed by Marc Forster.
The story begins quite jovially, as Amir lives with his father, Baba, in a comfortable home in Afghanistan. The family has two servants of a “lesser” ethnic minority, Ali and his son, Hassan, who are Hazaras. Hassan and Amir are a similar age, so they quickly become friends. During this time Afghanistan’s king is overthrown, and the country undergoes a significant amount of change. One day, when Hassan and Amir are playing in the streets of Kabul, they encounter a group of boys who threaten to beat up Amir for befriending a Hazaras. Hassan attacks the kids with a slingshot, and the two boys escape the fight.
Later, during the winter, the two boys take part in a kite-fighting tournament. The objective of the competition is to cut the kite string of your opponent by covering your kite string in shards of glass. When a kite string is cut, the owner of said kite loses and the boys take off to retrieve the kite, an activity known as kite running. Amir ends up winning the tournament, and Hassan takes off to retrieve the losing kite.
When Amir goes looking for Hassan, he finds him at the end of an alley, surrounded by the group of three boys who initially wished to fight them. Amir then witnesses Hassan being raped by a boy named Assef, while the other two boys hold Hassan’s arms. Amir runs away, leaving Hassan at the end of the alley. When Hassan later returns with the kite, Amir pretends that he saw nothing. The two boys begin to drift apart and Amir, who is racked with guilt, decides that either he or Hassan must leave. He then decides that he should frame Hassan for theft. Amir tells his father that Hassan stole from him, and upon confrontation, Hassan admits to it regardless of having taken nothing. Shortly after this, Hassan and his father move away from Kabul.
The story then progresses ahead to when Amir and his father are escaping Kabul, which is now a war zone being invaded by the Soviets. They are heading to Pakistan and after an arduous journey, they arrive. Two years later, Amir and his father move to California where Baba works at a gas station and Amir attends high school. To make extra money, the two of them sell things at a Sunday Market, where Baba encounters an old friend, General Taheri. General Taheri’s daughter, Soraya catches the eye of Amir. Amir and Soraya begin to talk when General Taheri finds them and tells Amir that he needs to approach the situation appropriately. After this occurs, Baba is diagnosed with lung cancer, and Amir asks him if he thinks General Taheri will approve of Amir’s request to marry Soraya. General Taheri does approve of his request, and the two marry quickly. Shortly after the marriage, Amir’s father passes away.
Later, Amir gets a call from an old friend of his father, Rahim Khan. He wants Amir to visit him in Pakistan as he is sick. Amir does go to Pakistan, and Rahim tells him of the travesty perpetrated by the Soviets after Amir and his father had left. He asks a favor of Amir but first decides to tell him about his old friend, Hassan. Hassan and his wife had a child, a boy named Sohrab, and Rahim had convinced the family to come live with him in Kabul. On a trip to Pakistan for medical treatment, Rahim received a call from a neighbor saying that the Taliban had arrived at the house and shot Hassan and his wife. With his parents dead, the young Sohrab was sent to live in an orphanage.
Rahim asks Amir that he go to Kabul to find Sohrab and bring him back to Pakistan where he can live safely with a family that will care for him. Amir agrees and heads to Kabul to find Sohrab in the orphanage that he was growing up in. Amir does eventually find Sohrab after searching around Kabul, but not before he encounters old enemies and suffers a beating.
The novel provides a dark look into the hardships endured by families living in Soviet and Taliban occupied Afghanistan. The development of emotional attachment to the characters is unavoidable, and will likely leave you gasping in awe at the atrocities perpetrated during the novel. While the general tone of the novel is shocking, you will find yourself cheering for the protagonist during the progression of the story.
Download links to The Kite Runner – ePub and Hardcopy versions are available from Amazon.
Amazon Link Download: