Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Heartbreaking. Harrowing. Beautiful. Tragic. Haunting...Khaled Hosseini tells the story of Amir, a young Afghanistan boy from privilege, who lacks courage; betrays his one, true friend; and craves a father's love that is always just past the tips of his fingers. When war breaks out in 1978, his father and he leave all of their riches to flee to the United States. After almost twenty years, Amir receives a phone call, and he must go back to his homeland to face his demons and learn the true meaning of sacrifice. While there, he discovers the horrors caused by the Taliban - murdered orphans, public executions, and decaying bodies hanging on every corner - and meets up with an old nemisis who is determined to make sure that Amir doesn't make it out alive. 

This book is phenomenal! Everything that I thought I knew about Afghanistan was either exaggerated or incorrect. This novel paints a picture of a muslim country living in peace until a war broke out and changed its future forever. Thinking that the Taliban would bring them peace, citizens supported their efforts to thwart the communism of Russia. What they learned very quickly, however, was that the Taliban used lies and manipulation to gain support only to use it to begin a reign of terror so intense that people trembled when its name was uttered. In addition, citizens learned to be quiety compliant or else they got to witness their family tortured and murdered before it was their turn. The Taliban does not represent true muslims. If people learn nothing else from this novel, they need to stop listening to the propoganda. 

This is an excellent novel to teach in conjunction with Marjane Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS. Although her novel deals with the 1978 take over of Iran by Islamic radicals, many of the same themes and historical events coincide. I like to play audio clips of Hosseini reading poignant sections of his novel for the class so that they can hear the hypnotic quality of his voice and how his authentic dialect adds to the various scenes. 

This novel has a lot of graphic scenes. Although it is not an autobiography, it is based on events that Hosseini is all too familiar. The only reason someone wouldn't want to read this for graphic reasons is because the reality may be too much to bear.

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