1. The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

Here is why I chose the book:

"A wonderful work... This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years. All the great themes of literature and of life are the fabric of this extraordinary novel: love, honor, guilt, fear redemption...It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read after seemed bland." -Isabel Allende

That strong endorsement from a trusted writer and the need to know what a "kite runner" is led me to take a chance on a NYT best seller. I don't usually reach for best sellers. Generally they sell because they don't disturb, because they affirm or way of life, because they allow readers to believe what they already believe. In other words, they are popular for all the reasons not to spend hours on something.

But this novel rocked my foundation. It moved me deeply. I read in awe, in fear, in sorrow and a sort of desperate hope. A fierce work of literature about huge mistakes, the danger of damnation, the difficulty of redemption.

The novel begins with an old man calling the 30-something Afghan refugee protagonist from half way across the world and saying, "There's a way to be good again" and imploring him to come to Pakistan.

Here's what Hosseini says of his protagonist in the San Fran Chronicle:
"He went back to Afghanistan, then ruled by the Taliban, to settle an old score. He went back after a 20-year absence to atone for a sin he had committed as a boy. He went back to... rescue himself from damnation. The journey almost cost him his life. The thing is, I was the one who sent him. It was easy.”

Hosseini is an Afghan refugee living in San Fran today. He's a doctor. And an extraordinary writer. Kind of makes me think of Checkov.


Olman Feelyus said...

Strong endorsement (and a well-written one as well). Does it deal with the Taliban? I'm very interested in what it was like to live under them. Congratulations on your first!

Crumbolst said...

Thanks for commenting. Yes, the novel deals with the Taliban in extraordinary detail. One side effect of reading this novel I've learned some about the Russian occupation and a great deal about the Taliban, whom the Afghans thought were their saviors...

Let's just say you see more than the whites of their eyes.