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BOOK REVIEW: THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    If you want to discover Afghanistan this indeed is the book. Afghanistan always gives you that eerie feeling because of its difficult terrain and the exploitation and devastation by Taliban. In The Kite Runner the author while narrating the story takes you through the length and breadth of Afghanistan in terms of its socio-politico nuances. From an Indian perspective it even highlights the similarities between the cultures of the two countries and that makes the book even more interesting.

    ‘The Kite Runner’ is the first novel by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseni. It was published in 2003 by Riverhead Books. The price of this book in Amazon is Rs 319 for a print copy and Rs 179 for a kindle copy. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy, a Pashtun, from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan of Hazara tribe, and therefore, considered a lesser human being in Afghanistan and especially among the Pashtuns. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, and the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

    Hosseini considers The Kite Runner to be a father–son story that emphasises familial aspects of the narrative, an element that he continued to use in his later works also. Themes of guilt and redemption feature prominently in the novel, with a pivotal scene depicting an act of sexual assault that happens against Hassan that Amir fails to prevent. The situation is the primary reason why Amir and Hassan’s friendship ends. The latter half of the book centers on Amir’s attempts to make amends for this mistake by rescuing Hassan’s son two decades later.

    The Kite Runner became a bestseller after being printed in paperback and was popularized in book clubs. It was a number one New York Times bestseller for over two years, with over seven million copies sold in the United States. Reviews were generally positive, though parts of the plot drew significant controversy in Afghanistan. A number of adaptations were created following publication, including a 2007 film of the same name, several stage performances, and a graphic novel. The book classifies under Historical fiction and completes in about 372 pages.

    I particularly liked the flow, the language, the construction of sentences and the analogies used in certain sentences to explain what the author intended to say in the book. The detailing is superb and so are the coincidences. The language is high-flown, verbose but to give parochial affect the author has often used local Afghan words. Upon completing the book an Indian reader will be able to make out the similarities between the cultures of India and Afganistan, even when the author touches Hindi at one place in a slightly derogatory manner.

    Khaled Hosseni worked as a medical internist at Kaiser Hospital in Mountain View, California for several years before publishing The Kite Runner. In 1999, Hosseini learned through a news report that the Taliban had banned kite flying in Afghanistan, a restriction he found particularly cruel when that was the biggest sport of Afghanistan. The news “struck a personal chord” in him, as he had grown up with the sport while living in Afghanistan. He was motivated to write a 25-page short story about two boys who fly kites in Kabul. Hosseini submitted copies to Esquire and The New Yorker, both of which rejected it. He later discovered the manuscript in his garage in March 2001 and began to expand it into a novel format at the suggestion of a friend. According to Hosseini, the narrative became “much darker” than he originally intended. His editor, Cindy Spiegel, “helped him rework the last third of his manuscript”, something she describes as relatively common for a first novel.

    The Kite Runner covers a multigenerational period and focuses on the relationship between parents and their children. Hosseini developed an interest in the theme while in the process of writing. He later divulged that he frequently came up with pieces of the plot by drawing pictures of it. For example, he did not decide to make Amir and Hassan brothers until after he had doodled it.

    Like Amir, the protagonist of the novel, Hosseini too was born in Afghanistan and left the country as a youth, not returning until 2003. Thus, he was frequently questioned about the extent of the autobiographical aspects of the book. In response, he said, “When I say some of it is me, then people look unsatisfied. The parallels are pretty obvious, but … I left a few things ambiguous because I wanted to drive the book clubs crazy.” Having left the country around the time of the Soviet invasion, he felt a certain amount of survivor’s guilt. “Whenever I read stories about Afghanistan my reaction was always tinged with guilt. A lot of my childhood friends had a very hard time. Some of our cousins died. One died in a fuel truck trying to escape Afghanistan [an incident that Hosseini fictionalizes in The Kite Runner]. The book talks about his guilt. He was one of the kids who grew up with flying kites. His father was shot.” Regardless of that, he maintains that the plot is fictional. 

    Riverhead Books published The Kite Runner, ordering an initial printing of 50,000 copies in hardback. It was released on May 29, 2003, and the paperback edition was released a year later. Hosseini took a year-long sabbatical from practicing medicine to promote the book, signing copies, speaking at various events, and raising funds for Afghan causes. Originally published in English, The Kite Runner was later translated into 42 languages for publication in 38 countries. In 2013, Riverhead released the 10th anniversary edition with a new gold-rimmed cover and a foreword by Hosseini. 

    Plot

Part I Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood in Kabul

    Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara who is the son of Ali, Amir’s father’s servant, spend their days kite flying in the hitherto peaceful city of Kabul. Flying kites was a way to escape the horrific reality the two boys were living in. Hassan is a successful “kite runner” for Amir. He knows where the kite will land without watching it. Both boys are motherless. Amir’s mother died during childbirth, while Hassan’s mother, Sanaubar, simply abandoned him and Ali. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant. Amir affectionately refers to him as Baba, who loves both the boys—Amir and Hassan. He makes a point of buying Hassan exactly the same things as Amir, much to Amir’s annoyance. He even pays to have Hassan’s cleft lip surgically corrected. On the other hand, Baba is often critical of Amir, considering him weak and lacking in courage, even threatening to physically punish him when he complains about Hassan. Amir finds a kinder fatherly figure in Rahim Khan, Baba’s closest friend, who understands him and supports his interest in writing. In a rare moment when Amir is sitting on Baba’s lap rather than being shooed away as a bother he asks why his father drinks alcohol which is forbidden in Islam. Baba tells him that the Mullahs are hypocrites and the only real sin is theft which takes many forms.

    Assef, an older boy with a sadistic taste for violence, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which according to him, is an inferior race whose members belong only to Hazarajat. Assef is himself is half Pashtun, having a German mother and a typical blond haired blue eyed German appearance. One day, he prepares to attack Amir with brass knuckles, but Hassan defends Amir, threatening to shoot out Assef’s eye with his slingshot. Assef backs off but swears to take revenge one day.

    One triumphant day, Amir wins the local kite fighting tournament and finally earns Baba’s praise. Hassan runs for the last cut kite, a great trophy, saying to Amir, “For you, a thousand times over.” However, after finding the kite, Hassan encounters Assef in an alleyway. Hassan refuses to give up the kite, and Assef severely beats him and buggers him. Amir witnesses the act but is too scared to intervene. He knows that if he fails to bring home the kite, Baba would be less proud of him. He feels incredibly guilty but knows his cowardice would destroy any hopes for Baba’s affections, so he keeps quiet about the incident. Afterwards, Amir maintains a distance from Hassan. His feelings of guilt prevent him from interacting with the Hassan. Hassan’s mental and physical well-being gradually begins to deteriorate.

    Amir begins to believe that life would be easier if Hassan were not around, so he plants a watch and some money under Hassan’s mattress in hopes that Baba will make him leave; Hassan falsely confesses when confronted by Baba. Although Baba believes “there is no act more wretched than stealing”, he forgives him. To Baba’s sorrow, Hassan and Ali leave anyway, because Hassan has told Ali what happened to him. Amir is freed of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow.

Part II

In 1979, five years later, the Soviet Union militarily intervenes in Afghanistan. Baba and Amir escape to Peshawar, Pakistan, and then to Fremont, California, where they settle in a run-down apartment. Baba begins work at a gas station. After graduating from high school, Amir takes classes at San Jose State University to develop his writing skills. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose. There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her family. Baba is diagnosed with terminal cancer but is still capable of granting Amir one last favour. He asks Soraya’s father’s permission for Amir to marry her. He agrees and the two marry. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. Amir and Soraya settle down in a happy marriage, but to their sorrow, they learn that they cannot have children.

    Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, Amir receives a call from his father’s best friend (and his childhood father figure) Rahim Khan. Khan, who is dying, asks Amir to visit him in Peshawar. He enigmatically tells Amir, “There is a way to be good again.”

Part III

    From Rahim Khan, Amir learns that Hassan and Ali are both dead. Ali was killed by a land mine. Hassan and his wife were killed after Hassan refused to allow the Taliban to confiscate Baba and Amir’s house in Kabul. Rahim Khan further reveals that Ali was sterile and was not Hassan’s biological father. Hassan was actually the son of Sanaubar and Baba, making him Amir’s half-brother. Finally, Khan tells Amir that the reason he has called Amir to Pakistan is to ask him to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, from an orphanage in Kabul.

    Amir looks for Sohrab, accompanied by Farid, an Afghan taxi driver and veteran of the war with the Soviets. They learn that a Taliban official comes to the orphanage often, brings cash, and usually takes a girl away with him. Occasionally he chooses a boy, recently Sohrab. The orphanage director tells Amir, how to find the official, and Farid secures an appointment at his home by claiming to have “personal business” with him.

    Amir meets the Taliban leader, who reveals himself as Assef. Sohrab is being kept at Assef’s house as a dancing boy. Assef agrees to relinquish him if Amir can beat him in a fight. Assef then badly beats Amir, breaking several bones, until Sohrab uses a slingshot to fire a brass ball into Assef’s left eye. Sohrab helps Amir out of the house, where he passes out and wakes up in a hospital.

    Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him. However, American authorities demand evidence of Sohrab’s orphan status. Amir tells Sohrab that he may have to go back to the orphanage for a little while as they have encountered a problem in the adoption process, and Sohrab, terrified about returning to the orphanage, attempts suicide. Amir eventually manages to take him back to the United States. After his adoption, Sohrab refuses to interact with Amir or Soraya until Amir reminisces about Hassan and kites and shows off some of Hassan’s tricks. In the end, Sohrab only gives a lopsided smile, but Amir takes it with all his heart as he runs the kite for Sohrab, saying, “For you, a thousand times over.”

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: GOING ROGUE–An American Life by Sarah Palin

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Going Rogue—An American Life (2009) is a personal and political memoir by politician Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican candidate for U.S. Vice President on the ticket with Senator John McCain. She wrote this wonderful book with Lynn Vincent.

    The book became a New York Times #1 bestseller in its first week of release, and remained there for six weeks. It is one of the four political memoirs published since the 1990s to sell more than two million copies.

    Let me comment on this book more from an Indian perspective—Kafi dil khol kar likha hai Sarah Palin ne is kitab ko—She has really poured her heart into this book. What, she could, really bring out, is how, the political grid, of the U.S works. And within that, how American politicians, operate. Sarah belongs to Alaska and boy-oh-boy what a vivid description she has given of Alaska. Its mind boggling. She perhaps hasn’t left any aspect of Alaska untouched—be it oil, pipeline, gold, snow and the caribou. Sitting here in India one thinks Alaska is but cold cold and cold and nothing more, but Sarah Palin has showcased Alaska, the biggest state of the US in its full glory and elements.

    Although the book is a thick marathon spine of—some 341 pages and that too the big ones 6 x 9 inches, yet you won’t feel like keeping it aside, as the narration, only keeps, cheeringly swishing, all along. It’s a happening book. It’s a moving book and so is the life of Sarah Palin. Price of the book is 16$.

    It’s a narration that every Indian politician should read. It gives a hands on account of how election campaigns are conducted in the US. Their value system—and why America is America. It dwells deep into Sarah Palin’s personal life. How she balances between career, home, children and the rub-off of these on politics and vice-versa.

    Sarah is a mother of five children, youngest was born, when she was, the governor of Alaska, with down-syndrome. But she knows how to fight it out. She is blessed with a gentleman husband Todd, who is full of understanding. Her eldest son is in the army posted in Iraq. In the book she is extremely transparent about her family and her views and doesn’t mince words. She is against teen pregnancies yet she supports her daughter when she conceives and is in the family way. The piece on election campaign is superbly written.

    The book has six chapters:

  1. The Last Frontier
  2. Kitchen-Table Politics
  3. Drill, Baby Drill
  4. Going Rogue
  5. The Thumpin
  6. The Way Forward followed by Epilogue, A view from Alaska by Dewey Whetsell, Afterword and Acknowledgments

    Delving deeper. On September 3, 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave a speech at the Republican National Convention that electrified the nation and instantly made her one of the most recognizable women in the world. As chief executive of America’s largest state, she had built a record as a reformer who cast aside politics-as-usual and pushed through changes other politicians only talk about: Energy independence. Ethics reform. And the biggest private sector infrastructure project in U.S. history. While revitalizing public-school funding and ensuring the state met its responsibilities to seniors and Alaska Native populations, Palin also beats the political “good ol’ boys club” at their own game and brought Big Oil to heel.

    In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Palin paints an intimate portrait of growing up in the wilds of Alaska, meeting her lifelong love, her decision to enter politics, the importance of faith and family, and the unique joys and trials of life as a high-profile working mother. She also opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare mom’s-eye view of high-stakes national politics—from patriots dedicated to “Country First” to slick politicos bent on winning at any cost. Going Rogue traces one ordinary citizen’s extraordinary journey, and imparts Palin’s vision of a way forward for America and her unfailing hope in the greatest nation on earth.

Writing process

    The book deal was announced in May 2009 when Palin was still Governor of Alaska. She said that she wanted the public to hear her true story, “unrestrained and unfiltered”. She reportedly received an advance of $1.25 million from publisher Harper Collins, with two projected additional payouts of between $2.5 million and $5 million each.

    Palin announced that although she would have a ghostwriter to help, she would be doing a lot of the writing herself, employing her journalism skills and the personal diaries and notes that she had kept throughout her life. Critics questioned whether Palin could write a book.

    Responding to concerns that writing and promoting the book would interfere with her duties as governor, Palin said she would only work on the book after working hours and would promote the book whenever she has the rightful opportunity. The Alaska law department issued a legal opinion which okayed the project, stating: “A book publication project is compatible with your position as governor so long as it does not interfere with your official duties”.

    Conservative journalist and author Lynn Vincent worked on the book with Palin for several weeks shortly after she resigned the governorship in the summer of 2009. Palin met with HarperCollins editors for intensive editing sessions in New York City. HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham said that Palin had been “unbelievably conscientious and hands-on at every stage”, adding that the book was “her words, her life … in full and fascinating detail”. 

 The publisher attributed completion of the memoir early to Palin’s devoting full-time to the writing process after she left office. A paperback version of the book, with new material, was released on August 24, 2010.

    The first part of the book is devoted to Palin’s life before the 2008 campaign; the second part details her life as a candidate for national office. The book is written in a personal tone similar to Palin’s manner of speaking. Palin discusses the disagreements she had with campaign advisers of her running mate John McCain, criticizes the national media, and talks about the importance of religion and family life.

    The “Going Rogue” part of the title refers to criticism leveled at Palin by McCain campaign advisers that she was straying from their carefully crafted message and publicly disagreeing with McCain on several issues. The subtitle, “An American Life”, mirrors the title of President Ronald Reagan’s 1990 autobiography.

    Palin ends the book by quoting her own father saying, “Sarah’s not retreating, she’s reloading.”, suggesting she would return to public life.

    I would give it eight out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****