Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Gut-wrenching Read: The Kite Runner

I just finished reading Khaled Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner. It is a powerful fictional story about coming of age in Afghanistan and America. Written in the emotive first-person, Hosseini's novel takes on a journey from his childhood in Afghanistan under the monarchy, his family's flight to Pakistan and California after the Soviet invasion and war of the 1980s, and his subsequent return to Afghanistan in the days before 9/11. In the midst of this fascinating setting (which is largely unknown to me and most westerners), Hosseini tells a gut-wrenching story of personal lies, devotion, betrayal, and redemption. These emotions and experiences are common to people everywhere, regardless of nationality, family-origin, race, or religion. I think it tells us something about being human, the way God has wired us and built us. We connect so intimately with the experiences and emotions of Hosseini's main character because we have all experienced the failures and successes that he lives through. As with any author's work, the power of the story has to do with how we connect with the characters in spite of a completely different culture and history. And in that context, Hosseini has written a complex human novel, and for that, I am thankful.

I look forward to reading his second work, A Thousand Splendid Suns, about the experience of two women in Afghanistan. After spending 10 days in Kazakhstan in April, I can more fully appreciate the culture he writes about. It is a different world with different customs, but the same broken people looking for hope and redemption.

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