fiction, review

The Kite Runner

Stories of human race and war have been numerous, yet they never lose an audience with time, what with their characteristically various shades of conflicts, upheavals, and inseparably, viewpoints of the human beings involved. More often than not, as I see it, the writers of those stories are the beings experiencing such conditions themselves. And Khaled Hosseini is no exception. The Kite Runner is apparently the result of how Hosseini sees his country of origin. Set mainly in Afghanistan, this painfully gripping novel talks about the untold, hushed social problem of a land where wars seem to happen every day without end, and not without foreign interference, too.

The story begins in a reverse plot, where the narrator takes us back to the childhood of Amir, an Afghan boy of some rich family. Craving for his father’s love, Amir is portrayed as a lonely, unhappy, desperate child. The only friend to ease his loneliness is Hassan, a kid of Hazzara tribe, which is the low, stereotyped, unjustly segregated people of the Afghan society. They are best friends, albeit Hassan is a son of his servant, until Amir realizes that his father has more love for Hassan than for him. Burned with jealousy, Amir turns to hate Hassan in secret and subtly, consciously, plays with him, knowing that he is innocent and uneducated.

However, that’s not quite the point where the conflicts, both social and personal, begin. The real starting point from where the story runs deeper and becomes more complicated is when Hassan is sodomized by Assef, a wicked teenage boy of German descent. Unable to let go of his jealousy and his insensible thought of his unfair father, Amir doesn’t stop that evil doing from happening. But, as wrongful as his silence might seem, Amir eventually can’t help but carry a heavy burden of guilt along the way to America, where he seeks refuge from the attack of Taliban when they take over. And years later, Amir has to pay what he has done in the past, going through terrible ordeal, suffering, and dying to save Hassan’s son, Sohrab, from the hands of the ruling Taliban.

Hosseini describes his characters as humanly as he can, both Amir and Hassan, even Amir’s cheating father. As a kid, a lonely kid in need of attention, Amir is just like any other boy. He is vulnerable, insecure, and capable of doing anything to get a little of that attention, especially his parents’. His silence over Assef’s evil deed may not be justified, but when it comes to children, their unjustified behavior is the reflection of what they get, or do not get, from their parents. What interests me most is undoubtedly the character of Hassan. Portrayed as a poor Hazzara kid, Hassan embodies the social problem of the Afghan people, or of all people if I may say so, where we tend to discriminate everyone who is not like us. Meanwhile, in the middle of it all, Amir’s father is described as quiet and respectful, yet as flawed as anyone, any man. I see his character, rather than Amir, as the center of the core of the story being narrated. He, in my opinion, is the machine driving the whole narrative in which Amir is the main character to follow.

Speaking of the narrative, this is, I must say, the strength of Hosseini’s tale. It is beautifully written in a painful way. The way he describes every scene and emotion, the way he portrays every character (and their backgrounds), and the way he elaborates subtly all the conflicts, are just greatly moving and piercing, so piercing that I had to put the book down for a moment every once in a while to feel my fingers again before I moved on. The plot is also seamlessly flowing, although punctuated with flashbacks. I honestly didn’t see any flaws nor weaknesses during my reading of The Kite Runner. All I saw was a great human story.

By the end of this book, you would feel like you’re drained of all energy and tears. The Kite Runner is not merely a story of human kind, it’s a story of human nature. It is not only about war and Taliban, something that sells in view of public curiosity about the so-called Islamic radical group, it is also about a conflicting society. The Kite Runner is strong, poignant, and emotional. It is highly recommended to anyone who wants to open their eyes to humanity.

Rating: 4/5

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