Saturday, May 26, 2007
The Kite Runner: A Splendid Read
I finished reading The Kite Runner, a debut novel by Afgan American writer Khaled Hosseini exactly at 9:45 pm yesterday. I wanted to read this book since long time but something invariably came in my way.
I saw this book for the first time almost a year ago when an assignment on book reading habit took me to British Council. The book with a picture of a boy peeking through a narrow alley drew my attention but I had to delay my reading. The book belonged to someone else.
Then, one February morning while having breakfast at Vajra Hotel, my desire to read it was rekindled by a Britsih guy and a French lady. They talked about the book so passionately that I felt like going instantly to the bookstore and getting a copy. But again, not money but time barred me from doing so.
As I was planning to read it this summer, I found fellow blogger Dinesh Wagle clutching it, talking about it, again very passionately. Upon a quick googling of the writer, I was routed to his website where he talks about upcoming book Thousand Splendid Suns. The book is out on May 23. To my pleasant surprise, I came across his blog–another commonality apart from being fellow South Asians.
So, how was the book? Like its protagonist Amir, I hate the clichés. But, I'm doomed to repeat one: the book was trip down the memory lane. It also made me nostalgic. The novel is about friendship, love, betrayal, loss and redemption. It revolves around the lives of Amir, son of a rich and flamboyant Kabuli businessman and Hassan, a Hazara and half brother of Amir.
However, to me the book held the captivity only halfway through. Because, till the first half of the book, I was with Hassan, my sympathy poured in for him. But, afterwards there appeared many twists and turns and the story lost its grip on me. The way the author redeems Amir is not very convincing. So, to draw analogy with a Hindi movie (which often figures in the book), it's like a film only good till the first half. The second half did not match it's first. Nevertheless, the story is beautifully told, the plot aptly set. At times, it propelled me to pause and ponder over my own childhood spent in Eastern highland of Nepal called Phidim. Ah, picturesque Phidim!I had a very close childhood buddy named Gayatri ( currently working in Dubai), we had our shares of bullying weaker guys (almost like Assef does in the novel), we also stopped talking for few months only to resume it after one of our mutual friends negotiated. So, for me childhood was as much a struggle as a jolly good time.
At the end, I could not identify with one character. I think my childhood self was a mixture of Assef, Hassan and Amir. In those innocent years, we had our mischief, eccentricities, wilderness and peccadilloes. In 323 pages, the novel spans through the Soviet invasion that shatters the peaceful and idyllic lives of the protagonists, The Soviet backed rule, Taliban rule, September 11 and it's repercussion in Afghanistan. Like Desai's Inheritance of Loss, here's another Diasporic novel that oscillates between South Asia and US. But, Hosseini despite his medical background has put the story of displacement and despair very poignantly. I wish he repeats the success with Thousand Splendid Suns. Best of luck Khaled, Agha!
Link: The movie "Kite Runner" is out today (Dec 14, 2007). Read the Newsweek cover story on it.