The kites of Kabul
An Afghan soars with his first novel
By Tim Talevich
THERE’S A DARKNESS on the edge the core of every good story is a lot of
of Khaled Hosseini’s soul. It emerges sorrow and pain and difficulty and strife,
in images of guilt, lies, dark blood on and I’ve always been intrigued about
snow and a lamb’s unblinking eyes at writing about those things.”
sacrifice. Above all, Hosseini says, he just
These are the themes of The Kite wanted to leave an imprint on readers.
Runner, the astoundingly successful “First and foremost, I want to give read-first novel from Hosseini, an Afghan ers a good yarn, a good story,” he says.
who came to America as a teenager 25 “When they turn the last page, I want the
years ago with only three or four characters to continue to resonate—I
English words in his vocabulary. The want the readers to be moved, to be
story is at once a frightening look at Khaled Hosseini involved in the dilemmas and problems
Afghanistan’s political struggles, a psy- of these characters and feel for them.
chological portrait of the relationship of a father and “I also hope that the book is a bit of a window,
son and, ultimately, a tale of choice and redemption. a glimpse into my homeland and into Afghan cul-
The Kite Runner follows the life of Amir, the ture, and that it helps personalize the events of
privileged son of an Afghan merchant, and his best Afghanistan, humanize what has happened there,
childhood friend, Hassan, the faithful son of the put a more intimate personal face on the Afghan
family’s servant. For reasons that he discovers later, people for the reader.”
Amir cannot gain his father’s love, while Hassan can The author’s own life is as interesting as the
do nothing wrong. A flawed and weak hero, Amir characters he creates. After coming to America, his
succeeds in having Hassan and his family removed family struggled to assimilate into a new culture.
from his life. But the brutal consequences of those Hosseini worked hard to learn English and get
actions haunt Amir throughout his life, until he is accepted into medical school—his second love, after
given “a way to make it good again.” writing, but one that seemed more practical. An
Parts of the story parallel Hosseini’s own life. internist since 1996, he wrote The Kite Runner in the
Like Amir, his childhood occurred in pre–Soviet early mornings before going to work.
war Kabul, a place of gardens and thriving markets. Currently, he has taken a sabbatical from medi-In their youth, hero and author dreamed of being cine to write a second book, due out next fall or
writers. And like the character in his book, Hosseini winter. Like The Kite Runner, it is a story of love and
immigrated to America. His father was a diplomat friendship. “It is also set in Afghanistan and tells the
serving in France, and rather than return to story of a lifelong friendship between two Afghan
Afghanistan, which the Soviets had invaded, the women,” Hosseini explains, “with Afghanistan’s
family sought and received political asylum in the tumultuous recent past as a backdrop.” C
U.S. Some of the scenes in the story are based on
Hosseini’s experiences and on stories from relatives. For an exclusive Q&A with Khaled Hosseini,
Pennie Clark Ianniciello
Costco Book Buyer
MY MEASURE FOR a
great book is to listen to it
on CD after reading it.
That’s what I’m doing
with The Kite Runner, my
Book Pick for this month.
It kept me in its grip for
For starters, author
Khaled Hosseini has a
mature and masterful
grasp of the English language, even though
English isn’t his first language and this is his first
novel. In quick strokes he
offers glimpses of Afghanistan: a mullah calling for
daily prayer, a famous kite
competition and, more
darkly, harrowing escapes
by a lucky few.
Hosseini also has a
natural sense of drama
and timing. And while
The Kite Runner is at
times difficult to read
because of its brutal reali-ties, at its end Hosseini
does leave readers with
the hopeful image of a
kite flying in a gentle
breeze, the symbol of
more innocent times. C
But the heart of the novel is neither autobiogra- see
phy nor politics, but fiction—the compelling human
themes that Hosseini says unfoldedas as he
wrote the story. “I sat down and I
had in mind these two boys and
this troubled friendship between
them, and I followed that thread to
see where it led me,” he politely tells
The Connection from his home in the
That thread is at times a dark one.
We know early on that Hosseini would
use irony and its images as tools for the
tale. “I’ve always been drawn to the dark
side of things. I’ve been drawn to dark
themes,” he acknowledges. “I think that at
Seattle, WA 98124-1088; or fax
it to (425) 313-6718.
No purchase is necessary.
Entries must be received or
Costco has 10 autographed postmarked by midnight,
copies of Khaled Hosseini’s The January 3, 2006. Void where
Kite Runner to give away. prohibited. Employees of Costco
To enter, print your name, mem- and their families are not eligi-
bership number, address and ble. Winners will be notified by
daytime phone number on a mail. One entry per household.
postcard or letter and send it to:
The Kite Runner, The Costco
Connection, P.O. Box 34088,
Send your feedback
on this month’s book to: