Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kite Runner

Reading The Kite Runner has been on my to-do list for a few years now. Needless to say, after all that I have heard about the book from those who have read it, my expectations were high. This is a pitfall of waiting too long to read a much raved about book - there is the danger of asking too much from it and being disappointed as a result.

When I started reading The Kite Runner, I was convinced this was going to be one of the best books I had read in a long while. Hosseni explores the relationship between Amir, the protagonist and Hassan his servant with tremendous sensitivity. Their's is an unequal friendship with Hassan giving much more than he receives in return - atleast that is what it would appear to be on the surface.

Yet there is the brooding sense of guilt in Amir for having failed Hassan as a friend that almost redeems him. You are tempted to forgive him his lack of courage, for the imperfections of his character seeing how much he suffers as a consequence. Amir makes you acutely aware of the gap between who you truly are when no one is watching and who you wished you had been.

The two main forces in Amir's life - Hassan's unwavering love and loyalty and his father's aloofness towards him shape the defining events of his childhood. Up to this point, the book is nothing short of brilliant. The prose is lyrical without being uneconomical, sensitive without being maudlin.

Unfortunately, the second part is a huge disappointment and is completely mismatched in quality to the first. Hosseni resorts to predictable plot elements and the story-line seems to dry up at pace. I wish Hosseni had put together a book of short stories instead with part one being the title story - he could have carried the book off on the strength of that one story alone.

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