Monday, 28 March 2011

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

If you like your pots boiling over this is a good read.  Every time you think you've reached a plateau another log is thrown on the fire. The Kite Runner is a melodramatic tearjerker of a novel that attempts to portray some of the pain of a country that has been ripped apart again and again. It doesn't suggest any answers but tries to highlight the humanity behind the headlines.

The tale takes us from pre CIA/Russia Afghanistan through regime changes and across the globe to San Francisco. It raises questions about how people can find redemption from crimes of commission or omission. It is not a radical book, either politically or in terms of its literary form.

I felt it to be overly schematic, with for too many 'mirrored' resolutions of the troubles of the narrator. In terms of the nature of the trauma that has and continues to stalk the Afghani people I would have thought that a more fractured narrative could have better served the story. At times I felt like there was a big finger pointing at certain events saying remember the earlier event that started this problem and see how it is resolved with such poetic justice.
Khaled Hosseini
I felt that the author was aware of this but didn't go far enough to avoid it. There was also a sense of not wanting to be offensive to anyone but also wanting to make a point. I felt that the book seemed to try to please everyone apart from the unpleasable. The villain is a sociopath,  half German and in thrall to Hitler. Just in case you missed the fact that he was the villain!

I did enjoy the book but in a lukewarm way and although brought to the edge of tears a few times I found that they were washed away by the waves of coincidence which bring the novel to a close.

Some people seem to have used the book as an introduction to Afghanistan but having seen a number of documentaries over the years I felt that I learnt little new and that some issues were skirted. (see The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan here)

The book seemed a projection of the tension between the guilt of the survivor / exile and some wish fulfillment of return / redemption. The sincerity of these feelings and the fact that the author seemed to be grappling with them in an honest way made parts of the book compelling but for me the whole wasn't quite the sum of its parts.

1 comment:

  1. I have been teetering with the idea of reading this book for quite a while, but I don't think I will. You're review was brilliant! But I don't think I would enjoy the read very much...I'm so glad I stopped by :-)

    Following from Book Blogs!