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"The Kite Runner", an English novel by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, was published in 2003. It has the privilege of being the first novel published by an author of Afghani origin. The plot employed in the novel is set in Afghanistan from the late 1970s to 1981, which is the time period characterized by the Soviet invasion, then in the Afghan community in Fremont, California from the 1980s to the early 2000s, and finally in contemporary Afghanistan suffering at the hands of the Taliban regime. The Kite runner is certainly a great literary work which deserves much applaud because of its effectiveness and completeness as an entertainer as well as potential food for thought.
The themes of the story are widespread: familial relationships, ambivalent and complex friendship of a servant and master against the ethnic and religious differences, the childhood betrayal, the lingering guilt from past, the never ending effort of emancipation from the guilt and redemption, the unkindness of a rigid class system; and a 40-year chronicle of Afghan history explaining the shocking realities of war.
The adult narrator, Amir, lives in San Francisco and is contemplating his past, thinking about a boyhood friend whom he betrayed in the days of adolescence. The story then moves backward in time to the narrator's early life in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is the only child of a privileged merchant. Amir's closest friend is his playmate and servant Hassan, a poor illiterate boy who is a member of the Hazara ethnic minority (The Kite Runner). As the protagonist Amir grows to adulthood, he comes to terms with his past wrongs, trapped in the guilt of betraying his best friend and at the same time aiming to adjust to the culture of the United States, which is an exact opposite to the one in which he has been nurtured in the past.
An aspect worth mentioning is that the "The Kite Runnergrips us firmly from the beginning primarily due to the graveness of its plot. The author sets the tone for the entire novel by beginning with the lines "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975".  Before we know anything about the protagonist, including his name, we learn that one moment in his past defined his entire life.
Another strength of this text is the successful employment of flashbacks. Hosseini tells us about the life of Amir and Baba, first in Afghanistan and then in US, which cater for the development of a strong climax that defines the entirety of the plot. These flashbacks also succeed in creating a sentimentally engaging tale of childhood and its problems. Hence, this tool of narration not only allows the author to keep his readers captivated through the presence of climax delivered by the usage of flashbacks, but also enables them to emotionally involve themselves with the characters, sensing their pain, guilt, and desires.
An important aspect of the novel is that it appears in the first person point of view. This implies that everything is seen from the perspective of the narrator. It gives the notion of a memoir or, more appropriately, a confession. This point of view works well for the novel, as Amir's main pursuit is that of remission from the guilt he feels because of his inaction during Hassan's attack by Assef. Through this text, the readers can hence comprehend Amir’s attempts at a spiritual catharsis, in an attempt to relieve himself of the guilt he has been entangled in since his childhood.
The author’s choice of words in this particular story is absolutely pivotal to setting the tone for it. Hosseini writes straight ahead in utilitarian prose and creates characters that have the simplicity and primary-colored emotions of people in a fairy tale or fable. The employment of a comprehensive descriptive analysis not only aids the text with a tremendous amount of authenticity but also enables the readers to identify with the characters, engaging them in the context of the happenings, and allowing them to comprehend and visualize the graveness of the events the characters are subject to.
The Kite Runner also brings in limelight the differences between Western and the Middle Eastern culture. It gives an insight to as how socioeconomic conditions in Afghanistan reveal the difference between the majority (Sunni) and the minority (Shiite) and how people categorize themselves based on physical features and religious ideals. For instance, Hassan, a Hazara boy, is unable to go to school, and is nurtured to forgo any educational pursuits. Hence the novel gives an authentic narration of how society has stigmatized their race concurrently, not allowing them to even imagine or hope for better pursuits in life.
What is significantly distinctive about the novel  is the utter  hatred , detest and disregard shown by Hosseini for the brutal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Russia, and his outrage at the subsequent, perhaps even more brutal control by the Taliban. The usage of wordings such as  " The Mullahs want to rule our souls... and the Communists tell us we don't have any" and at other point "I piss on the beards of all those self-righteous monkeys" succeed in portraying a powerful impact and visualization of the political scenario, as well as the desperation and the distress the author experiences in response to it.
However, it cannot be entirely ignored that the novel does possess some shortcomings. It would be not entirely inappropriate to claim that Hosseni has concentrated too much on a rich exile and his parental problems while very little on the motivation of going back to Afghanistan and working for his people. This creates a contradictory element in the minds of the readers, because throughout the progression of the novel, they are delivered with the notions that the population of Afghanistan is in a state of complete distress and distortion, and then bewildered to discover that the author conveys a slightly indifferent attitude by shedding more light on his personal issues than on attempting to relieve the Afghanis from the state of helplessness they are subject to.
The book has also portrayed Taliban as mysterious sociopaths and presented them as evil beings. The novel renders it undeniable that the Taliban are deserving of the blame that is showered upon them, in terms of uprooting the social and political structures of Afghanistan. However, at the same time, developing an attitude of entire hatred towards them is slightly offsetting because it projects the author as displaying a tendency of being biased in his pursuits.
 It would not be inappropriate to claim that "The Kite Runner" is a classic piece of writing. Although it does possess certain shortcomings, the plot of guilt, love, betrayal and patriotism that it epitomizes place it in a different league altogether. Through the implementation of effectively elaborate yet precise vocabulary, detailed yet engrossing descriptions, and an extremely pragmatic analysis of the political and social landscape of Afghanistan, the author has assembled a text that is in all its entirety worthy of the international acclaim it has received. 

Written By: Hamza Orakzai ( Bsc Student LUMS )

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