Thursday, August 07, 2008

Not bedtime reading

Just been reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a book which I borrowed on my recent trip south and soon realised was not the bedtime reading I needed. This is the author's first book, and apparently the first to be written in English by an Afghan, and the writing delivers the insights into life in Afghanistan with telling directness. But the insights into the narrator's childhood perceptions and the horrifying results for himself and his friendship with the boy closest to him are such as to grip and repel simultaneously, so that my need to discover what lay ahead vied with the grim inevitability of the outcome.

This is a story of friendship, betrayal and redemption, beautifully told. It is also a window into a world which was changing even as I realised it existed - with the Russian occupation, and the subsequent horror of the Taliban. It tells of moderation and worldliness in a country which became synonymous with religious and social repression, and points up the plight of the asylum seeker in a strange land. It disturbs and provokes. I'm glad I read it.

4 comments:

  1. This book is up there with my favourites. An amazing tale of atonement.

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  2. A Friend mentioned this to me as being a film too. I shall look out for it. Thank you.

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  3. alison9:43 AM

    I was awed by the courage to create a protagonist carrying the story, who had done something shameful.
    'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is worth reading too though somehow The Kite has that feel of being compressed into a diamond, if that makes sense.

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  4. I read these two books this holiday. To my shame, I had until that point allowed the tragedy of Afghanistan to be somewhere "out there". Through these stories the full human cost of the power-play there became suddenly more real for me. I was impressed by the brutality, the opression of women and men, the effect of illiteracy amd the great depth and resilience of a people held to ransom.
    Khaled hosseini's website (http://www.khaledhosseini.com) is illuminating, and waiting a while for the videos to download of his visits and his observations was, I found, worthwhile.

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