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The Kite Runner [Hardcover]

Khaled Hosseini
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,296 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2003
Twelve year old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father Baba, one of the richest and most respected merchants in Kabul. He has failed to do so through academia or brawn, but the one area where they connect is the annual kite fighting tournament. Amir is determined not just to win the competition but to run the last kite and bring it home triumphantly, to prove to his father that he has the makings of a man. His loyal friend Hassan is the best kite runner that Amir has ever seen, and he promises to help him - for Hassan always helps Amir out of trouble. But Hassan is a Shi'a Muslim and this is 1970s Afghanistan. Hassan is taunted and jeered at by Amir's school friends; he is merely a servant living in a shack at the back of Amir's house. So why does Amir feel such envy towards his friend? Then, what happens to Hassan on the afternoon of the tournament is to shatter all their lives, and define their futures. When Russia invades Afghanistan, Amir and Baba escape to San Francisco, where Baba fades but Amir feels that at last he can succeed. But he is still haunted by guilt and he knows that his past will not let him go. The destructive rule of the Northern Alliance, followed by the even more terrifying and oppressive Taliban have destroyed the country that Amir knows, but the hearts of men cannot be suppressed. Amir must return to Afghanistan to search for salvation, and perhaps his life-altering mistakes can be redeemed. This is a moving, courageous story of love, loyalty, secrets and vengeance, and of a country and a boy whose footsteps cannot be retraced, as the events and decisions resonate and alter them for ever.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (1 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747566526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747566526
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,296 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,092,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Khaled Hosseini is one of the most widely read and beloved novelists in the world, with over thirty eight million copies of his books sold in more than seventy countries. The Kite Runner was a major film and was a Book of the Decade, chosen by The Times, Daily Telegraph and Guardian. A Thousand Splendid Suns was the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year in 2008. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and lives in northern California.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Kite Runner of Khaled Hosseini's deeply moving fiction debut is an illiterate Afghan boy with an uncanny instinct for predicting exactly where a downed kite will land. Growing up in the city of Kabul in the early 1970s, Hassan was narrator Amir's closest friend even though the loyal 11-year-old with "a face like a Chinese doll" was the son of Amir's father's servant and a member of Afghanistan's despised Hazara minority. But in 1975, on the day of Kabul's annual kite-fighting tournament, something unspeakable happened between the two boys.

Narrated by Amir, a 40-year-old novelist living in California, The Kite Runner tells the gripping story of a boyhood friendship destroyed by jealousy, fear, and the kind of ruthless evil that transcends mere politics. Running parallel to this personal narrative of loss and redemption is the story of modern Afghanistan and of Amir's equally guilt-ridden relationship with the war-torn city of his birth. The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner begins in the final days of King Zahir Shah's 40-year reign and traces the country's fall from a secluded oasis to a tank-strewn battlefield controlled by the Russians and then the trigger-happy Taliban. When Amir returns to Kabul to rescue Hassan's orphaned child, the personal and the political get tangled together in a plot that is as suspenseful as it is taut with feeling.

The son of an Afghan diplomat whose family received political asylum in the United States in 1980, Hosseini combines the unflinching realism of a war correspondent with the satisfying emotional pull of master storytellers such as Rohinton Mistry. Like the kite that is its central image, the story line of this mesmerizing first novel occasionally dips and seems almost to dive to the ground. But Hosseini ultimately keeps everything airborne until his heartrending conclusion in an American picnic park. --Lisa Alward,


'A haunting morality tale' -- USA Today

'An epic tale ... shattering ... Amir's story is simultaneously devastating and inspiring ... sharp and unforgettable' -- Observer

'Brilliant ... It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality' -- Publishers Weekly

'Hosseini's description of a childhood friendship between two boys in Kabul is a moving reflection on Afghanistan's upheavals’ -- Rageh Omaar, foreign correspondent, Observer

'Hosseini's sparkling descriptions of people, places and emotions never dry up. Hosseini is a truly gifted teller of tales' -- The Times

'Provides a vivid glimpse of life in Afghanistan over the past quarter century ... carefully and convincingly described' -- Library Journal

‘A haunting morality tale set in Afghanistan and California, covering nearly 40 years’ -- USA Today

‘A marvellous first novel ... It's an old-fashioned kind of novel that really sweeps you away’ -- San Francisco Chronicle

‘Poignant ... offers a moving portrait of modern Afghanistan, from its pre-Russian-invasion glory days through the terrible reign of the Taliban’ -- Entertainment Weekly

‘This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years ... extraordinary ... powerful’ -- Isabel Allende

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
206 of 211 people found the following review helpful
By Bobbewig TOP 1000 REVIEWER
When it was suggested that I read The Kite Runner, I put off doing so for a long time because I am primarily a "thriller/suspense/mystery" type-of-guy. That was a mistake that I'm glad I eventually corrected. The Kite Runner is an astonishing, powerful book that had me riveted from the first to the last page. It is a story of fierce cruelty and yet redeeming love, as well as of an intimate account of family and friendship. Both transform the life of Amir, the main character, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the Afghani monarchy; just before Afghanistan's revolution and its invasion by Russian troops. Hosseini is a masterful writer whose prose and narrative style ooze emotion. If you have any hesitancy about reading this book, as I did, put your doubts aside and rush out to get yourself a copy of The Kite Runner. You'll be very glad you did. It is not only a book that will keep you from doing anything else but turning the pages, it is a book that will stay in your head and heart for years to come. It is that good!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kite Runner 18 Jan 2006
By Ian
A wonderful book which pulls all the emotional strings, making you think that it is an autobiography. Maybe a touch too contrived towards the end but that is a tiny critiscism of one of the best books I have read in a long time. I hope they don't try and make a film of it, the characters should stay alive in the brilliant word pictures.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! A thousand times over... 20 Sep 2007
Without doubt, one of the best books I have ever read.

Against the background of a falling Afghanistan, Amir's quest for acceptance by his father and redemption from his boyhood-innocent arrogance and betrayal leads you through a throat-lumping, tearful journey peppered with joy and hope.

Once immersed in Amir's story, it is nearly impossible to put this book down and can be re-read over and over. I can't recommend this book enough.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE
I usually read historical novels and sci-fi so this is a bit of a departure for me but well worth it. This is a story of friendship and redemption (but not in the obvious way..) set in the years before the Russian invasion of Afganistan and after the fall of the Taliban. The friendship of two boys (Amir and Hassan) is brought to life in the eraly part of the book and the under currents of the complex family realtionships that eventually give Amir the chance to correct what he regards as his cowardice.

I won't spoil the plot but the book by turns captures the innocence of childhood, how Amir finally grows up and his determination not to let his friend down - even if it through Hassans son and not Hassan. The book vividly captures the Afghan lifestyle both before Russia and after the Taliban takeover, it is in one moment a beautifully descriptive book and then wham ! a very brutal story

This is not one to dip into - you'll get caught in the story and I defy you not to be moved
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful 24 Mar 2007
Most books you forget the minute you put them down. Then one comes along that you know you will carry with you for a long time. The Kite Runner is the latter. I felt I was reading an autobiography and I was hooked. Yes, there are cliches and coincidences but it is fiction. Maybe because it is Hosseini's first book it is unpretentious, making it accessible. If like me, you know very little about Afghanistan it is informative. It is about how far you may go for parental approval, for friendship or for redemption. You may hate, despise or despair of the narrator but you cannot help but understand him, most of the time. Some characters are despicable, most are endearing.

If you want to have a small insight into Afghan society both in Afghanistan and the States, read about Kabul under the snow, imagine what it may have been like to come face to face with the Taliban, run through the streets of Kabul after a kite, do read The Kite Runner, you will enjoy it.
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82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
'The Kite Runner tells the story of boyhood betrayal, sacrifice and ultimate redemption set mainly in Afghanistan and the US. The main character, Amir grows up in a somewhat affluent area of Kabul with his father (Baba) and their servants Ali and Hassan. Amir and Hassan are boyhood companions who could have been friends but for their ethnic differences and, more importantly, Baba's seeming preference for Hassan. The early parts of the book mainly consider the relationships between these four characters amid the changing face of Afghanistan as revolutionary war tears the country apart.

Following the betrayal, Amir engineers the departure of Ali and Hassan and sometime later he and his father flee to the US in search of a better life. Amir grows up, enters a loving but childless marriage and following the death of his father, becomes a successful author before receiving the call to return to Afghanistan, right his wrongs and learn the truth about...(well that would spoil the story).

This is a beautifully written novel that captures the essence of pre-revolutionary Afghanistan, its descent into chaos and terror, the coming (and going) of the Russians and the rise of the Taliban. In fact this message is so powerful it is not always clear if Amir's story is used as a vehicle to highlight the plight of Afghanistan or the other way round. Does this matter? Maybe not, by the end of the book you feel a stronger affinity for Afghanistan than Amir.

Despite the quality of the writing, the plot itself reveals a number of weaknesses where events seem a little too contrived - a little too neat, and the section set in the US could have benefited from severe editing. Overall though, we liked this book mainly because of the vibrant style and the manner in which Afghanistan over the last quarter century is so convincingly presented.
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