After finally getting my hands on the book, I opened it yesterday afternoon and finished it at 1:40 a.m. I am weird that way. With a first reading, I have to consume the entire book in one sitting or as close to one sitting as possible with children, work, and farm.
While a good read, much of the plot of The Kite Runner was incredibly predictable. I do like the imagery and symbolism of the kites - the fragile friendship between a wealthy boy and his servant - that floats, dives, and cuts through the book. The language is simple - some critics say stark - and while I enjoy straightforward prose sometimes it is not enough to capture the essence of the truth. The Kite Runner tries to accomplish too much in one short novel leaving some areas sparse. In this one novel, Hosseini tries to create:
- A bildungsroman
- A history of the strife in Afghanistan and the atrocities of invasion
- A expose on the struggles of immigrant families living below their social and educational status in a new country.
- An explanation of why the Afghan people initially embraced the Taliban.
- A story of prejudice, jealousy, honor, tradition, and religion
I enjoyed the struggle of Amir to find his place within the household of his father. His struggle with jealousy, his desire to please his father, and search for his father's traits within himself are a universal story. I was also moved by the insights into immigrant life - the sacrifices made.
All that being said, if you are curious about Middle Eastern life - the importance of religion, tradition, and day to day struggles - The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz is a better choice. Palace Walk, the first book in the trilogy is especially good. The language and details are richer providing a clearer picture of a family cloistered behind religious law. These books were published in English in 1990, so are not as recent a publication as The Kite Runner but they provide detail of life behind a veil.