By KHALED HOSSEINI
A non-Nicholas Sparks bestseller. So it was pretty good.
The thing about The Kite Runner is that Hosseini manages to make his protagonist Amir both adorable and absolutely spineless. There are moments you want to shout at him, scream at him to grow some balls, but at the same time you feel sorry for him. He’s a fairly quiet guy, and the fact that he’s an avid reader doesn’t hurt either. And he truly seems to love Hassan, the son of a servant in the house.
Amir a privileged child living in a large home in Kabul, Afghanistan, spends most of his childhood struggling for his father’s affection. His father, however, seems perpetually preoccupied and only doles out his love in fleeting, unexpected moments. He sees his son’s meekness as cowardice (and he isn’t entirely wrong).
Meanwhile, Amir spends his spare time playing with Hassan, and the two especially enjoy kite fighting. On the day of the kite-flying tournament (SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read it, skip down two paragraphs), Amir is the last of hundred of kites, and in winning he seems finally to have earned his father’s notice. Hassan goes in search of the last kite Amir has defeated, but he doesn’t return. Amir comes looking for him, only to discover that the town bully, Assef, has cornered Hassan. With the help of his stooges, Assef rapes Hassan, and Amir hides, too afraid to stand up for his friend.
Amir, ashamed of his cowardice, accuses Hassan of stealing in order to make him leave. Hassan does so as a kind of last act of obedience. Years later, Amir has become a successful novelist in America, but he is called back to his home of Afghanistan in search of Hassan’s legacy and his own redemption.
It’s a heartbreaking story, and one that draws on the pervasive themes of love, family, revenge, honor, regret, but then this is fairly obvious as most bestsellers deal with themes that can speak to anyone. It’s why reading a bestsellers makes for a relatively safe read. (Most of the time. I have an issue with some of the manufactured bestsellers, such as Nicholas Sparks love stories and Janet Evanovich.)
I haven’t yet seen the movie, which I remember as having passed through theaters without too much of a splash. I can see the story being difficult to make into a film, though, especially as it deals with such heavy internal issues.
In other news: Script Frenzy has begun, and what with Easter weekend things have been a little hectic lately. Don’t worry: I’m still on track (though just barely. Writing from a hotel room has the advantage of quiet, but being in such a foreign place to do something as personal as writing has its setbacks. More on Script Frenzy later this week.
Happy Easter, everyone!