The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This powerful first novel...tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, Khaled Hosseini's privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country's revolution and its invaiton by Russian forces. But political events, even as dramatic as theones that are presented in The Kite Runner, are only a part o fthis stroy. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over hte forces of violence - forces that continue to threaten them even today. --The New York Times Book Review
Below is a list of main characters.
|Amir||Narrator, main character, son of Baba, friend of Hassan|
|Hassan||Amir's best childhood friend. Also a servant in the household of Baba and Amir.|
|Ali||Hassan's father. Servant in the household of Baba and Amir.|
|Rahim Kahn||Close family friend of Baba's. Also forms a close bond with Amir.|
Click on the following to hear how the names of the main characters are pronounced. These audio clips are from the audio book available from Audible.com
Names: Khaled Hosseini, Ali, Amir, Baba, Rahim Khan, Sanaubar.
The Kite Runner takes place primarily in Afghanistan. A few maps you may find useful are included below, (click on thumbnail images to see a larger image in a separate window).
|Afghanistan in relation to surrounding countries.|
|Beautiful map courtesy National Geographic.|
|Satellite map courtesy National Geographic.|
|A basic topographic map of Afghanistan.|
Below is a time line with key events in Afghanistan's history along with key events from the book. Events from the book are appear in blue text. If you can offer suggestions or corrections, I'd be glad to incorporate them.
|Before 1921||British-Afghan Wars|
|-British-Afghan wars in 1838-42, 1878-80, and 1919-21 were fought as Britain tried to annex Afghanistan to protect its Indian empire from Russia.|
|1921||Independence from Britain|
|-In 1921 Afghanistan defeats Britain. Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence of Afghanistan from Britain, and establishes close ties with the Soviet Union in hopes of improving Afghanistan's overall socioeconomic conditions. In 1926, Khan declares Afghanistan a monarchy and declares himself king.|
|-The changes of King Amanullah came too quickly and resulted in a backlash. Under Nader Shah, there was a return to a less reform oriented regime, and to more British favorable policies. Relations with the Soviet Union cooled.|
|1933 - 1973||Zahir Shah|
|-Zahir Shah begins his forty year reign as king of Afghanistan.|
|-Britain withdraws from India leaving a political vacuum in the area.|
|1964 - 1975||Childhood Years|
|-Amir and Hassan growing up in Afghanistan.|
|July 17, 1973||End of the Monarch|
|-While Zahir Shah is away in Italy, his cousin, Daoud Khan, puts and end to the monarchy in a bloodless coup, and declares Afghanistan to be a republic. He attempted social and economic reforms, but had little success.|
|April 1978||Communist coup d'etat|
|-The extremist communist party PDPA, (People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan) overthrew Daoud in a bloody coup in which Daoud and most of his family were killed. The PDPA implmented socialist reforms with strong support from the Soviet Union.|
|December 1979||Russian tanks roll into Kabul|
|-Groups seeking to turn back dependence on the Soviet Union began turning to violent means and when the Aghan army could not control them, the Soviet Union sent troops in to control the situation.||1979 - 1989||Soviet Occupation|
|This period is marked by resistance fighters (the mujahidin, including the taliban) against the Soviet occupation. The mujahidin are supported by aid from the U.S. and other countries.|
|1981||Escape from Afghanistan|
|-Amir and Baba escape from Afghanistan.|
|1981 - 2001||Life in Fremont, CA|
|-Amir and Baba live in Fremont, CA.||1989 - 1996||Internal Conflict|
|Following the withdrawl of Soviet troops, Afghanistan was left in a state of cival war, with intense fighting among the various mujahidin groups that had worked to free Afghanistan from the Soviet Union.||1996 - 2001||Taliban Rule|
|By 1996, the Taliban, consolidate their power and come to rule Afghanistan. On the one hand, Afghans were relieved to have an end to the constant fighting and corruption of the civil war. On the other hand, the price for this was a form of extreme Islamic rule that included public executions....|
|2001||Return to Afghanistan|
|-Amir returns to Afghanistan at the request of his long time friend Rahim Khan. What is supposed to be a short visit turns into a hair raising adventure for his life.|
|2001||Taliban Ousted from Power|
|The U.S. response to the September 11 terrorist attacks force the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.|
Here are a few other sites you might find interesting to check out while reading The Kite Runner.
I found The Kite Runner to be an absolutely incredible book. It is easy to read, but I would not consider it a light read. Khaled Hosseini is a master at balancing constrasts. For example, the easy prose contrasted with the weight of the story makes key events hit you like a ton of bricks; the impact is incredible. In the same way, Hosseini perfectly balances dark events with hope and compassion. A few people I know could not finish the book because of some of the darker sides to the story, but I felt the book was very well balanced. It touches deeply on our capacity for both good and evil.
The Kite Runner probbly would not be considered historical fiction in the strictest sense, but it is set well within the historical context of Afghanistan's recent history, so it provided strong motivation for me to do a little research on the history of Afghanistan. That, to me, is all that's required to classify a novel I'm reading as "historical"... a novel that has enough historical references to inspire me to learn a bit more history.
This was an incedible book, perhaps not strictly historical fiction, but well worth reading.
Comments from Others
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