Global Context (CA-Afghanistan): The Kite Runner

Global Context (Central Asia-Afghanistan): The Kite Runner

This series of posts deals with the global context in its historical, social, cultural, political, economic, demographic, and religious dimensions in particular. We will provide book notices, book reviews, and brief essays on these topics. We hope that you will find this series helpful as you live and bear witness in a complex and increasingly hyper-connected world.

Khaled Hosseini’s stunning debut novel is the masterfully told story of two boys growing up together in Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover of the mid-90s. One of the boys, Amir, is born to the privileged Pashtun upperclass while the other, Hassan, grows up a member of the despised minority group, the Hazara.

The ensuing narrative, centered around the Afghan game of “kite running,” takes the reader on a riveting and often sad journey through Afghan society and culture. Hosseini depicts the communal nature of Afghan society–the high value placed on family, town, and tribe. He portrays the pain and brokenness of many Afghans as he explores themes such as war, poverty, child abuse, and rape. Hosseini’s characters are brilliantly crafted and explore sin, guilt, and redemption like few other novels at the turn of the 20th century.

The Kite Runner is recommended for its significance (1) as a work of literature, (2) as a portrayal of history and culture, succeeding in examining recent Afghan history in an incisive and perceptive manner, and (3) as a global political bellweather, giving perspective to current U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as potential conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East.

The reader should note that the book is pervaded by graphic violence including sexual assault.

Book: The Kite Runner (2003)
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction
Region: Central Asia
Length: 352 pp.
Difficulty: Intermediate