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The Kite Runner [Paperback]

Khaled Hosseini
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,369 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 April 2004
Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father and resolves to win the local kite-fighting tournament, to prove that he has the makings of a man. His loyal friend Hassan promises to help him - for he always helps Amir - but this is 1970s Afghanistan and Hassan is merely a low-caste servant who is jeered at in the street, although Amir still feels jealous of his natural courage and the place he holds in his father's heart. But neither of the boys could foresee what would happen to Hassan on the afternoon of the tournament, which was to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return, to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (17 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747566534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747566533
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,369 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,247 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.

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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, --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'Beautifully nuanced, and the moment of Amir's ultimate betrayal is genuinely shocking. It is a passionate story' -- Literary Review

'If you liked The God of Small Things, then you'll love The Kite Runner ... compelling' -- Image Magazine

'My top fiction book of the year ... marvellous' -- Joanna Trollope, Books of the Year, The Observer

'Told with simplicity and poise, it is a novel of great hidden intricacy and wisdom like a timeless Eastern tale' -- Daily Telegraph

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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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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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fact or fiction? 20 Jun 2004
By D. Thurgood VINE VOICE
Afghanistan has been in the news sufficiently over the last 20 years for this book to grab my attention by its location alone. I am currently trying to break my Pratchett dependency, so the title also caught my imagination by refering to something of which I had no knowledge whatsoever. Kite running? What? Where? How? Kite jumping; now there's something I do know about and I have the injury to prove it! Kite running, it transpires, is the pastime of chasing stricken kites, falling from the skies as their strings are cut in Kabul's annual kite battles. Anyway... the story.
This harrowing tale starts in 1970's Kabul, meanders through late 80's America and returns to Kabul in the terrifying start of the new millenium. The author clearly has intimate knowledge of all these cultures, and the book is a refreshing insight into the Islamic culture of Afghanistan.
The book is almost impossible to stop reading (what a cliche!) as it draws you in so deeply into the principal characters life. At first you could be forgiven for thinking this is an autobiography, written as it is in the 1st person, but a work of fiction it is, and by the end you will be relieved to accept this.
It follows the childhood friendship of two Kabul boys, one a majority Pashtun with a rich father, the other a despised minority Hazara, son of the other father's servant. We see how fickle human nature can be, as the loyalties are stretched again and again, finally to catastrophic breaking point.
The author has allowed some wonderful literary licence to shape the second half of the story, as the lead character desperately seeks release from the past that haunts him, leading him to return from his refugee life in the USA, to civil war-torn Kabul, now in the hands of the tyrannical fanatics, the Taliban.
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82 of 92 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love
One of the best books I have ever read. It really gripped me and I didn't want to put the book down. I even read it at the gym. Heartfelt.
Published 7 hours ago by Emily Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Excellent book, arrived quickly.
Published 1 day ago by Joan Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have ever read
Quite simply, that's it.
Published 1 day ago by S. Townsend
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastic book, one of the best I have ever ...
This is a fantastic book, one of the best I have ever read!!! Beautifully written I would definitely recommend it!
Published 2 days ago by Mrs E K Grainger
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Absolutely brilliant, best book I've read in ages
Published 2 days ago by Michelle Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars A real insight it Afghanistan
I hadn't known anything about this war and reading this book has opened my eyes. I went from feeling sorry for Amil to being really angry with him. A fantastic read.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Redemption at its finest
This is a truly touching and thought provoking book. Not only does it tell a story of family bonds, brotherhood and redemption it is also intertwined with a powerful historical and... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Anita
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC
Loved this! A great read -very emotional!
Published 3 days ago by farah
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
This is one of my 'must read' recommendation books, i thoroughly enjoyed it. Khaled Hosseini is a wonderful writer and really immerses you in the world of Amir and Hassan. Read more
Published 4 days ago by littleblueboat
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good
I must be one of the last people to read this book. I don't know why but I have always resisted reading it. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Netty
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