Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

2/23/2008

The Kite Runner brings the news closer to home

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

THE NEWS objectively covers the events of the world. In today’s 24-hour world, news is ever more prevalent. However, the extended coverage also has a way of anaesthetizing its viewers to the point of apathy. Khaled Hosseini’s debut offering, The Kiterunner, refreshes the audience and brings the humanity back into the events that surround the Afghanistan people.

Through Hosseini’s novel, the first Afghan novel published in English, readers are exposed to the Muslim world in a human and emotional manner.

The Afghan world is a world so very far from the Western world of McDonald’s and democracy. Afghanistan is a landlocked nation sitting at the nexus of East and West, making it a main highway for trade and migration throughout history.

Of course, this also means having a barrage of conquerors at your doorstep. In the late 1970s, one of the time periods in which The Kiterunner is set, Afghanistan suffered through a Soviet-led invasion. In 2001, it is the U.S. Forces seeking to oust the harsh Taliban government that come knocking on Afghanistan’s borders. These historical events become the background of Amir and Hassan’s childhood friendship.

Hosseini takes his readers further into the story by peppering his novel with ritual, mullahs (clergy-like figures), and almost unpronounceable names for our Filipino tongues. Hosseini gradually initiates his readers into the nuances of Afghani culture including the racial and social barriers that lie within it. Pashtun and Hazara now have more depth than just mere syllables uttered in various newsclips. The war covered so voraciously on television now hits closer to the heart.

Readers follow the simple story of a friendship between two boys – Amir and Hassan each coming from different social backgrounds and race. This social difference soon forms the seed in which the crux of the story lies. Amir, a Pashtun, and Hassan, a Hazara, become symbolic of the racial tensions that brew inside one country. Their friendship is put to the test as Amir lay witness to a crime against Hassan’s dignity and does nothing about it.

As Amir’s household help and secret best friend, Hassan’s war cry has always been “For you, a thousand times over!” This extreme loyalty is put to the test and almost broken as Amir turns his back on Hassan when he needs it the most.

Amir is haunted by this memory long after he has left the war-torn country of Afghanistan, starting his life again in the Land of the Free. Until one day, he receives a missive from his country with just the simple words, “There is a way to be good again.”

Amir must now come face to face with his childhood trauma. For captivated readers, the question becomes, “To what lengths will Amir go through to right the wrong of his childhood?” The Kite Runner deftly takes on the matter and consequences of loyalty and integrity and what happens when one becomes lost in the midst of life’s challenges.

While not my usual fare for books, The Kite Runner is something not to miss on the reading list. It provokes the mind and the heart, forcing oneself to introspect and ask ourselves the lengths to which we will go through to right our own personal wrongs.


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