33 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Boy betrays boy, falls in love with self,
This review is from: The Kite Runner (Paperback)I feel as if I have just read a totally different book from everyone else. I had to read it because it's on the A Level syllabus of one of my private students. What was her teacher thinking when she chose this? This is a contrived and sentimental thriller with an eye-wateringly klunky plot. It keeps shouting its themes in the reader's face through the mouths of its stereotypical characters. The repulsively self-centred narrator is preoccupied with personal redemption but not with reparation. All he cares about is polishing his own moral self-image so that he can live with himself happily ever after. He barely attempts to imagine the suffering he has caused, and continues to cause, to others. He wallows in his own 'healing' after being beaten up (ooh, irony - beaten up, healing, geddit? Never mind). As long as he can love himself again, all is cool. Meanwhile, wifey is at home doing her head in with worry, but that's okay because he's on his journey. I wonder if the author was boringly expiating some boring guilt of his own in writing this.
Despite being brilliantly marketed as a searing combination of contemporary political insight and permanent human truth, it offers neither. I learned from this book that the Taliban 'wear beards'. The Taliban baddie is hilariously easily tracked down - it's almost a matter of 'Go to Taliban House, Number One Taliban Street, and press the doorbell marked Mr Taliban'.
There is a glaring thematic double-standard about violence and a kind of 'hey-ho' shrug at the appalling treatment of women: a mother who isn't allowed to sing at her own daughter's wedding, a husband who decides to adopt a child before telling his wife and a charming joke about wife-beating. But it's all okay, because the hero starts to feel good about himself.
'The Brady Bunch In Islamabad' is how I would sum up the wince-inducing dialogue of the final chapters: "Mashallah, you're just about the smartest little guy I ever met, Sohrab jan.'
With its sentimental optimism, paper-thin characterisation and faith in personal salvation whatever the cost to everyone else, this is in many ways a very lowbrow, mainstream American novel. The writer left Afghanistan at 15 and now lives in California, and it shows. The Richard and Judy TV show gave it a massive audience and its Afghan setting gave it political credibility. But teachers, come to your senses, please: this goo is not literature.