Back in 2008, I grabbed this book titled - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini at a Crossword (book shop) outlet, Bangalore. I read about 3 chapters from it and loved the narration style used. Every discussion, thereafter, of the book with peers, yielded only positive reviews. There were many who were willing to offer me their copy so that I could read and return. I refrained, for two reasons. One - somewhere back then, I had many activities at hand and made no efforts to organize time for my interests and second, if it was such a glorious book, I preferred to buy a copy of it for my own book shelf, retain it with me for life.
Finally ... springing up from my memory's long lost corners, I purchased this book on a Friday in Nov 2011 ... and I was very glad! The weekend gave me ample time to finish the book midst many piled up household chores. In fact, the book offered such an awesome read I finished it early Saturday itself, starting Friday night.
The Kite Runner is all about human emotions, relations, the minor nuances involved that define them and that complicate them. But there is no overdose of it at all, no verbose descriptions, no purple prose. Just purely simple and powerful expressions and phrases which each one of us can relate to. The backdrop of the story is set in Afghanistan, pre and post Russian invasion times unto the recent, destructive Taliban regime. So this is not a story of Afghanistan - no historical narrative, but purely a fiction piece that uses the Afghan and Pakistan towns and villages as its fabric for life.
There is servile loyalty in one character, there is confusion mixed with cowardice in another. There are expectations, the burden that results from it, some moments of happiness and many of disappointment in a father-son relation, mixed feelings of betrayal, anger and guilt that choke a young but strong and intense friendship.
The book opens with profound depth when it states - I became what I am today at the age of twelve. It says - Its' wrong what people say about past; I have learned, how to bury it, because the past claws its way out each time. In my opinion, this is very true, who we are at a much older age is all moulded in many "apparently insignificant" years of childhood.
Portions of the tale from 1975-81 set in Afghanistan and again in 2001 wrench one's heart, there are so many expressions and dialogues that bring a tear, a smile, some thoughts and severe contemplation. Serious concern of a father like - A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand upto anything are so commonplace and that's what makes the story so relatable while reading. The tale gets a small slump when it reaches the USA, primarily because it is the past at Kabul that is the bedrock of the tale and is intriguing till the end. There are lot of children in Afghanistan but little childhood, a child's description of a long wait for good things to occur equated as waiting for sour apples to turn sweet present acute lyrical excellence. The kite competition, the slingshot, the Shahnama, a leather bound notebook are few lifeless elements that bring vitality to the story.
For you, a thousand times over! is a simple expression that recurs in the story at crucial junctures. To me, I am glad I own a copy of this book. To summarize, this is a great piece of fiction, not even once overdone in narration, a must-have in one's bookshelf, may be then one can read it a thousand times over!