“I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 come along and changed everything. And made me what I am today.” (S. 2)
The Kite Runner tells us the story about to two young boys in Afghanistan: Amir, the son of a rich, affluent businessman and Hassan, the son of his servant. Both lost their mothers, both grew up together as best friends. But their friendship is overshadowed. Because Amir is a Pashtun, an ethnic majority in Afghanistan and Hassan is a Hazara, a minority that suffered discrimination for centuries. Amir is 12 years old when we are tossed into their world. The story starts somewhere in the 1970ties, during the last peaceful days before the country’s revolution and the invasion by Russian forces.
We are learning a lot about Afghanistan, the life before and after the revolution, before and after the Russians, the Taliban and endless years with war, death and cruelties. We learn a great deal about the culture and history of this shattered land and of the traditions and peculiarities of Afghan people. Hosseini writes so colorfully, so clear – I always felt like standing right next to Amir and Hassan. Smelled lamp kebab and the pomegranate trees, running Kites with them.
That is when the main story begins. We are there with Hassan and Amir, on a cold winters day, as participants in one of the yearly kite tournaments. That was the day, their childhood ended, their friendship broke and the day Hassan would stop smiling.
“When the sky cleard of kites and only the final two remained, every kite runner readied himself for the chance to land his prize. He positioned himself at a spot that he thought would give him a head start. (…) Over the years, I had seen a lot of guys run kites. but Hassan was by far the greatest kite runner I’d ever seen.” (S. 57)
The day, when both had one last triumphant win together. Amir and Hassan, the best kite runner Kabul had ever seen. Hassan, who gives everything for Amir, who always stood at his side, defended Amir when he was the one who needed defending. I suffered with him all the time and it broke my heart to read the story of Amir and Hassan. After this day in 1975, everything changed. They lost each other, they lost their friendship, their home and almost hope. A bond which was broken apart by war and politics and the stupidity of men.
Amir flees to America together with his Baba, where they try to build a new life. But someday a phone call brings Amir back to his old country. His heart is still broken, he is still suffering from his secret, the secret which took place on that last winter evening before everything turned dark. He is heartbroken as he sees what became of Kabul, his home and the people and children. He tries to find redemption, but if he finds it and what happened in between all those years, is for you to find out.
“A sadness came over me. Returning to Kabul was like running into an old friend and seeing that life hadn’t been good to him, that he’d become homelss and destitute.” (Page 267)
The Kite Runner is a book full of emotions, of beauty and cruelty. Hosseini describes the beauty of a first winters day, the exhilarating Kite running tournament, the lovely smells of fruit and kebab. And then he comes round with all the nasty things men can do to each other, war, injuries, behavior beyond humanity, disgusting events. All those things that are still happening every day in many parts of our world. Hosseini gave me the chills, made me laugh, filled my heart with hope, shattered it just to pick me up again. Reading The Kite Runner was an emotional roller coaster ride. I felt with Amir even though he was an unworthy hero, but some day there is a way to be good again, and he tries his best and seeks redemption. Amir and I were both haunted by the sweet and kind face of is best friend Hassan, with his green eyes and his small scar. A friend who gave everything for him –
“For you, a thousand times over”.
About the Book:
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Riverhead Books
German Titel: Drachenläufer
Publsiher Germany: Berlin Verlag / Piper
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He moved to the U.S. in 1980. Khaled Hosseini is the author of the bestsellers The Kite Runner and The Mountains Echoed. He is the founder of the Khaled Hosseini Foundation and a U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency.