BY TIM TALEVICH
The Costco Connection: What can you tell us about CC: The book is full of images: a pomegranate tree that
the parallels between your life and the characters and is once fertile, later barren; a lamb; a boy with a sling-occurrences in the book? shot. Are these and other images symbolic?
Khaled Hosseini: I think it’s really difficult to write KH: If there are symbols and metaphors, rarely were
novels without having some sort of parallel between they conscious or intended by me. But some that hap-
your own life and the story you’re creating. pened, and I noticed after the end of the book, I went
Inevitably there will be parallels, and there are in this back and tried to highlight them. Many that people
novel. For instance, like Amir I was born in the ’60s read and write to me about are entirely incidental.
in Kabul and lived in Afghanistan during the The one scene that I wrote initially, and noticed
pre-Soviet war era. there was something there I could use as a metaphor
The Kabul that I described through Amir was for a bigger statement, was the scene in the alley
the Kabul I remember, including his point of view, where Amir watches Hassan being raped and does
mainly his stance on things based on his socioeco- nothing. For a lot of Afghans, wrongly or rightly,
nomic class. My father was a diplomat and my that’sreminiscent of what happened in Afghanistan
mother was a teacher; we lived in the same neigh- after the Afghans suffered a million casualties and
borhood as Amir. defeated the Soviets, and after the Soviets left the
And like Amir, I came to the States as an immi- world pretty much turned its back while different
grant, although my arrival was far easier than brutalregimesbasicallyraped Afghanistan.
Amir’s. I didn’t have to escape Afghanistan per se.
In the middle section of the book, there are CC: In the book, Amir is asked several times, “Will you
quite a few parallels, namely, how Amir and his fam- be writing about our country?” It seems that they were
ily struggled to make ends meet and build a new life, seeking him as a voice for Afghanistan. Are you being
and the flea market sections. Those are lifted from sought as such a voice?
my life and from some relatives of mine. KH: Yes, it’s happened to quite an extent. I get invita-
tions to be a spokesperson for many things Afghan,
CC: You’ve chosen to mention irony in the book, and most of which I’m grossly underqualified to do. I do
we find several very dark or difficult themes of guilt what I can but decline the ones when I feel like I
and brutality. Why choose these themes? Is there a really have nothing of value to add to the discourse.
political statement behind this book? But I do get sought out to speak at fund-raisers, to
KH: I don’t think so. There are certainly political sit on panels and promote one cause or another. Lately
commentaries here and there. Some of them repre- I’ve done less and less because of time constraints.
sent what I believe, and some are representative of
what the character would believe. But certainly I did- CC: Did you dream that a first novel would meet with
n’t choose these themes; rather, the story demanded this kind of reaction and success?
that there were things I was going to talk about. KH: I may have dreamed about it, but I never had
I didn’t sit down and say, “I’m going to write any serious inkling that this would happen. My pub-
about child abuse or betrayal and redemption.” I sat lisher thought that the book had great potential, but
down and I had in mind these two boys and this I think the actual way it has performed may have
troubled friendship between them and I followed surprised even them quite a bit.
that thread to see where it led me. But this is beyond anything I ever imagined. It
It really wasn’t until I read the manuscript after honors me—it’s a thrill. I’m a first-time writer. For
it was done that I saw patterns emerging. Then it was this to happen to me the first time around is very
a matter of going back and trying to highlight those. much like a dream. C
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