A number of weeks back now, I listed my favourite books and I realised that I had not actually read any fiction since LAST APRIL! So I decided that I would force myself to read something.
I was keen however that I was not to end my “book fast” with another disapointment, so I took comfort in numbers. I think I am probably the last remotely literate person on the planet to have read it, as I think everyone has recommended it to me at one time or another, but I finally decided to read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
I will start by saying that it was an incredibly powerful and compelling book, but not one to read if you want cheering up. Set against a potted version of the sad history of Afghanistan, the book tells the story of a Pashtun boy named Amir and his attempts to gain the affections of his father and his relationship with his Hazara servant/childhood friend Hassan.
Amir starts as a difficult character to like as we repeatedly see him make decisions that, be it through spite or through cowardice, would directly or indirectly cause harm to Hassan despite Hassan’s relentless unwavering loyalty. However over time I found that his circumstances and the heavy burden of guilt that he carried caused me to soften my dislike for him. It is hard for me to condemn someone for their poor decisions during childhood. (Not that I did anything all that bad, but we all do things we may grow up not be very proud of … )
There are however times when the story line seems to creak a little. For example there are numerous occasions where the story gives away Chekhov’s gun way too easily, and when the story’s true villain, “Brass Knuckles Assef” tells Amir that “This is not over” and “I’m a very patient person” the author seems to go beyond the realms of coincidence to make this seem like cunning foreshadowing.
Other than that… I hesitate to take my history from fiction, but as someone that had heard of Afghanistan but prior to 9/11 could not have even placed it on a map, I found the abridged history contained within the story to be fascinating. A story of a people oppressed by regime after regime in a horrifying downwards spiral reminiscent of an Orwell novel.
So despite the odd minor criticisms, this book is a real page turner. I will however point out that to say that this is not exactly an uplifting book would be like saying that the Mamiya DL28 is a bit pricey … a serious understatement, make sure you are in an emotionally stable enough place before starting out on this book 🙂