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, Amazon.ca
'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
Over 21 million copies sold worldwide--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
From the Author
Where did the idea for this story come from?
Thats not an easy question to answer because it developed over time. During the past couple of years I had been mulling over the notion of writing a story set in Afghanistan but I couldnt decide on the right story or the right time period. At first I considered writing about the Taliban but I felt that particular story had already been toldits an issue that has been well covered and by people far more qualified than myself. I knew if I was going to tell an Afghan story Id have to tell one that had something new to offer. So I decided the story would have to take place, at least partially, in an Afghanistan that seemingly no one remembered anymore: the pre-Soviet War Afghanistan.
Why do you say its a time no one seems to remember anymore?
For most people in west Afghanistan had become synonymous with the war against the Soviets, the Taliban and repression. I wanted to remind people that it wasnt always like that. I wanted to remind them that there was an Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion of 1979, and that Afghanistan had enjoyed decades of peace without anyone firing so much as a rocket. The old adage in writing is to write what you know. Having lived through that time period in Kabulthe final years of the monarchy, the birth of the Republic, and the first years of Daoud Khans leadershipI felt comfortable writing about it.
How much of THE KITE RUNNER is autobiographical?
Inevitably there will be bits and pieces of yourself, either consciously or subconsciously, that end up in your protagonist. Fortunately there arent that many autobiographical things in the book. I dont have that much in common with Amir. I say "fortunately" because for a good portion of the story hes not exactly the most savory of characters. But there certainly are things about him that come from my own life. Perhaps the most prominent is that, like Amir, I grew up admiring my father greatly and had a very intense desire to please him. Thankfully it was not with quite the same fervor that Amir had. I think his brand of admiration borders on the pathological. Fatherhood in Afghanistan is a greatly revered institution. When people identify someone they say, "He's the son of so-and-so..." and they always mention the father. Tribal identity also comes from the father. Even if your mother is a Pashtun you cant inherit Pashtun status unless your father is one as well. So like a lot of Afghan kids I grew up revering my dad [to a certain extent]. Fortunately for me he reciprocated the affection and to this day we maintain a warm and wonderful relationship. And there are a couple of other things that might be worth mentioning. Amir and I also developed a love for reading and writing at an early age. And just like Amir, when I was a kid I used to love going to the theater to see Hindi and American films.
Youre planning a return trip to Afghanistan with your brother-in-law in March or April of this year. Where do you plan to go?
The places I really want to go back and see are the places where I have personal memories. Im dying to see my fathers old house in Wazir Akbar Khan where I grew up and the hill north of the house with its abandoned graveyard where my brother and I used to play. I want to see the various bazaars in Kabul where we used to hang out and my old school. Id also like to see the foreign ministry where my father used to work. I remember him taking us there when we were kids and how incredibly huge it looked to me then. Id love to revisit the mosques my dad would sometimes take us to on Fridays and the kababi house in Shar-e-nau (the New City), which I recently learned is still standing and which is still owned and operated by the same guy who owned it when I was a kid. Then there are some places of general interest Id like to visit: Bala Hissar in Southeast Kabul, the old city fortress and walls, a site of infighting between mujaheddin factions; Baghi Babur, the garden of the tomb of the 16th-century Mogul emperor Babu; Bagh-I-Bala, the home of a 19th-century king, now a posh restaurant, located high on a hill with a view of the city; and Darulaman, the old royal palaceonce a beautiful building surrounding by trees and lawns. We used to go there for family picnics when I was a kid. I understand it has been pretty badly damaged.
This will be the first time youre returning to Afghanistan in 27 years. What do you hope to accomplish?
Beyond wanting to go for purely nostalgic reasons I want to go back and talk to the people on the street. I want to get a sense of what life is like now in Kabul and a sense of where people think their country is headed. I want to see if I can put a finger on the emotional pulse of the city. I also hope to come back with a sense of optimism. I want to see the signs of reconstructionconcrete evidence that there may be hope for Afghanistan after all because for so long the only thing we ever heard from there were reports of killings, genocide, repression, natural disasters, poverty and hunger.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasnt just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins. After I hung up, I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature boats sailed, propelled by a crisp breeze. Then I glanced up and saw a pair of kites, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high above the trees on the west end of the park, over the windmills, floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco, the city I now call home. And suddenly Hassans voice whispered in my head: For you, a thousand times over. Hassan the harelipped kite runner.
I sat on a park bench near a willow tree. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought. There is a way to be good again. I looked up at those twin kites. I thought about Hassan. Thought about Baba. Ali. Kabul. I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today.