It wasn’t an easy read. The difficulty came not from language definitely, for Khaled Hosseini wrote in a simple and fluid style. What caused the discomfort was the starkly honest content.
It wasn’t easy reading about how some people live with the labourious baggage of guilt all their lives. Nor was it comfortable reading about religious and racial oppression. The lead character Amir was a somewhat selfish and timid child. A moment of cowardice led to a lifetime of regret and the book focuses on his reluctant journey towards redemption. His harsh father, imposing and powerful, was as much a victim of social class structures as he was a perpetuator of wrongdoings. Hosseini crafted characters that were flawed but real. This touch of realism is unnerving because we know Amir and his father could have just as well been us. Can we convince ourselves that we would, without a single doubt, save another person when our bravado may put our own lives in peril? Aren’t we perfectly capable of being jealous and hence part hateful of someone whom we are supposed to love? Can we rise beyond social norms and expectations to do what relieves our conscience and desires?
The Kite Runner is also a rather heartrending historical overview about Afghanistan. We all know Afghanistan as the base of Al-Qaeda, allegedly led by the world’s most wanted man Osama Bin Laden. It is also common knowledge that Afghanistan was bombed heavily by the United States in the aftermath of Sep 11. Aghanistan, however, has been a country torn apart by war long before 2001. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the subsequent withdrawal of the Soviet forces after the mujahideen forces fought back and the inhumane regime of the Taliban- all these depleted the country of whatever former prosperity it possessed, and robbed the Afghans of their every last ounce of strength and hope. It was draining just reading about the painful sufferings of the characters.
The book is not all gloom though. Hassan, with his selfless and unquestioning loyalty, shone as a beacon of light to man’s pernicious nature. The ending, albeit vague, offered hopes for a better future.
Let’s now pray that the film would do the book justice:) And for those who enjoyed this book, Angela’s Ashes and Shadow of a Saint are very much recommended as well.
Here’s to a 2008 of more good books to come. Yes, I am very much a bookworm and will gladly give up a Gucci sale (ok, maybe not Gucci. Make it Zara haha) for a Kinokuniya sale=p