Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A haunting read

One of the most honest books I have read recently. I never expected Khaled Hosseini, an Afghani settled in America to write such brilliant stuff. He is so honest in his expression that sometimes you feel like strangling the protagonist of the story yourself. If a writer can achieve this, then he is a bloody good writer.
There were passages in the book that made me cry.
This book revolves around Amir, a twelve year old who is fighting with his feelings to gain favour in his father's eyes and mighty jealous of anyone else who shares that favour with him. He is an ordinary boy, a coward and a weakling but possesses enough talent to win the local kite fighting tournament in Kabul.
The depiction of peaceful seventies' days in Kabul and the post Russian and Talibani regime passages are brillianly written.
More than Amir, it is Hassan who is 'The Kite Runner' and his boy Sohrab who tug at your heart strings. Hassan is younger to Amir, hare-lipped, a low caste Shia Hazara servant who is mocked in the streets. This story is about these two boys who could not see what was going to hit them on the afternoon of the kite flying tournament. That incident shatters their lives.
This is one of the greatest tales of redemption that I have read.
Hats off to Mr. Hosseini. This is a master story written with pain and honesty.
I will give you few glimpses of this master work : "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. ... Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. we took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words. Mine was Baba . His was Amir - My name. Looking back on it now, I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975 - and all that followed- was already laid in those first words. ... We crossed the river and drove north through the crowded Pashtunistan Square. Baba (father) used to take me to Khyber restaurant there for kabab. The building was still standing, but its doors were padlocked, the windows shattered, and the letters K and R missing from its name ( Excellent imagery, typical and reminiscent of most of the civil and war torn strife areas not only of Afghanistan but universally could be describing any place in the world and you will come across images like these)... After all, life is not a Hindi movie. Zindagi Migzara. Afghans like to say - Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end, kamyab, nah-kam, crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis." Well written.
Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan and his family received political asylum in the States in 1980. He is a doctor and lives in California now. This is his first novel and richly deserving of the San Fransisco Chronicle Award and being declared Bestseller by the New York times.
It is full of haunting images. It is lively, engaging and will definitely bring a tear or two to your eyes.
People living in the subcontinent would identify with the importance of kite flying and kite running during Tilsankrat and other days of the year. Run with this kite and read. You will not be able to forget this book.

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