RAD Book Club review: The Kite Runner

24 Mar 2017

RAD Book Club’s latest book was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

The story begins in Afghanistan in 1975, and follows twelve-year-old Amir, who, along with his loyal friend, Hassan, is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament. When the Russians invade, the family is forced to flee to America. Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan, now under Taliban rule, to find the redemption that that his new world cannot grant him.

The group was surprised that the book had been so popular given the harrowing content. We found the central character, Amir, generally unlikeable and were intrigued to know whether the author intended him to be sympathetic, as by the conclusion, we didn’t feel that he had redeemed himself.

When Amir and Hassan (also servant to Amir’s household) are growing up together, we see Amir struggle constantly for his father’s attention while Hassan seems to earn his favour with ease. Hassan is a deeply loyal friend to Amir and, at times, a two-dimensional character; naïve, but inherently good. This may be partly due to the fact that he can’t read and therefore has no windows to the world except through Amir’s story-telling.

In contrast, Amir is a selfish and jealous character, ashamed to call Hassan his friend. He teases him for being illiterate and sees his loyalty as a weakness. The group discussed whether the characters were victims of their social positions (master/servant) or whether it was cultural differences that separated the boys (Hazara/Pashtun). Throughout the story we see Amir battle with the choices he makes as he recognises himself as cowardly compared to his father , who is never afraid to stand up for himself or for strangers.

The story was given a poignancy given the current political climate, with Amir and his father able to flee to America with relative ease, when President Trump has so recently attempted to bar people from entering the country. The group was divided on the bookoverall: some found it engaging and wanted to find out what happened to the characters beyond the end of the story, while others found the central character unbelievable. All agreed that the ending tied everything up a little too conveniently and that there was too much focus on Amir redeeming himself when other characters seemed to be suffering still.