Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reader's Diary #1080- Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner

I know it's not considered the mark of a mature reader to dismiss a book for the unlikeability of a character. And I get that. Sometimes a book of horrible people is still a great book. But The Kite Runner protagonist is so darn nice that I started to think that we shouldn't reject that criteria outright.

He's not a perfect character, but I understood and loved him even more for his flaws. If you're one of the last people on Earth to read it (and here I thought I was the last), The Kite Runner tells of a man completely racked by guilt. As a child living in Afghanistan, he witnessed his friend, and friend of the family, being brutally attacked by some other boys and did not intervene. To add insult to injury, he could no longer look at his friend without being overwhelmed with guilt so effectively plotted to write his friend and family out of his life.

What I find so brilliant about the book is the way Hosseini has played with "unreliable narrator" idea. Normally that entails people whose facts might be called into question. In The Kite Runner, however, I didn't question the facts but the focus and interpretation. I found I had more empathy towards the narrator than even he had of himself. Did he make some horrible choices? Absolutely. But Hosseini manages to make them understandable, remarkably through a narrator that doesn't understand them himself.

That, plus the fascinating glimpse into a place and culture that I am almost completely ignorant about made the book one of the best things I've read this year.


Sam said...

John, even Hosseini's memoirs have a touch of this in them...can't remember the title, but take a look at the one he wrote about a friend of his from his internship days in medical school. The man is a brilliant writer.

Becca said...

Alas, you're not the last, I am. I watched the movie - a fatal flaw to reading a book sometimes! I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns and I own The Kite Runner, I just haven't made time to read it. I'm not sure why not. Good review.

John Mutford said...

Sam: I believe you. I now look forward to reading more of his work, for sure.

Becca: I was so out of the loop, it wasn't until I sat at the laptop to write this post that I even learned it had been adapted into a movie!

Carina said...

I read the book a few years ago, but still haven't seen the movie still. I've read the graphic novel, though, so I think it should be good. Glad you enjoyed it! :-)