Well, The Kite Runner is still on the bestseller list at least. I'm not sure why I resisted reading this. I think that I thought it might be too political, or too sad, or just not my cup of tea. I would not be exaggerating to say that this is one of the best books that I've read. Khaled Hosseini paints a picture of a boyhood in a pre-Taliban Afghanistan. In spite of relative safely, those who lived there were deeply affected by the systems of caste, religion and race. An equally telling picture comes to life as the family movies to safety in America in the 1980's. The insight into Middle Eastern culture on this side of the continent was equally enlightening.
There are political elements of course--a story set in these places in these times would not ring true if there were not. But this is not a story of politics. It is a beautifully written account of one man's hopes and dreams along with the bitterness of regret.
Kabul had become a city of ghosts for me. America was different. American was a river, roaring along, unmindful of the past. I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.
If for nothing else, for that, I embraced America.
This is a drama of human suspense. The obstacles that continue to appear in the life of Amir and the prose which introduces them draw the reader along at a fast past. This author has a unique understand of what makes people tick, and a way with words that allows him to express it in a way that is beautiful, but also functional to the plot.
I am not generally a hardback book buyer, because I'm cheap and because of the general lack of desire to jump on the bandwagon, and because a trade paperback is actually my favorite style of book, but I'm fairly certain that I am going to purchase and read Khaled Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, soon. I have no doubt that someone who writes like this about a woman can effectively create the women protagonists who drive that novel:
Lying awake in bed that night, I thought of Soraya Taheri's sickle-shaped birthmark, her gently hooked nose, and the way her luminous eyes had fleetingly held mine. My heart stuttered at the thought of her.
This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books, and I read it as part of my Saturday Review of Books Challenge as well as the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge.
I rate this novel a mild R, because of a handful of strong obscenities, along with a few scenes of realistic, non-gratuitous violence.