Book Review : ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini - Flying Colours of Guilt and Redemption


Picture Credits: The Uproar

History has witnessed a multitude of wars, loss of homes and livelihood. While some consequences of such experiences are more apparent to an onlooker, there are millions of people constantly fighting inner battles with their past lives.

The guilt and resentment towards the past continues to loom over one’s head, like a ghost begging and screaming for closure. As emotional scars keep getting repressed in hopes of a better tomorrow, one must ask - is it possible to escape the haunting of one’s past?


Book’s Name - The Kite Runner

Author’s Name - Khaled Hosseini

Genre - Historical Fiction, Drama

Language - English

Synopsis - Spoiler Alert!

The Kite Runner starts off in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan district, exploring the friendship of the protagonist and narrator, Amir (a Pashtun boy) and his closest friend, Hassan (a Hazara, whose father is Amir’s father Baba’s servant). Though their love for kite fighting is mutual, they shared a complex relationship owing to Amir’s annoyance over Baba treating both of them equally. 

Assef, a racist older boy, often ridicules Amir for socializing with Hassan. When Amir wins the local kite fighting competition, Hassan runs to fetch the last cut kite but ends up in the cross hairs of Assef, who physically and sexually assaults him. Though Amir witnesses this, he is too scared to do anything. This results in a break in their friendship that Amir never gets a chance to make right.

The novel goes on through the period of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, forcing Amir and Baba to flee their homes and move to California through Peshawar in Pakistan. As Amir graduates high school and takes classes at San Jose State University, he meets Soraya, who he later marries.

Subsequently, Amir learns that both Hassan and his father have been killed by the Taliban regime as they refused to allow the confiscation of Baba’s house in Afghanistan. Filled with guilt, Amir sets out to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab from an orphanage in Kabul, leading to a whirlwind of events that no one will ever see coming!

About the Author

Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-American novelist, born on 4th March 1965, in Kabul. His most successful book - both commercially and critically - is his debut novel, The Kite Runner (2003). Subsequently, two more of his novels have been published, including, A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and And the Mountains Echoed (2013).

He also worked as a physician in California, but later retired to write full-time. He is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and established with them, the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to support Afghan refugees returning to Afghanistan.

About the Book

The Kite Runner is Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, published by Riverhead Books on 29th May, 2003. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 101 weeks, including three weeks at number one, selling over seven million copies in the United States. Purchases soared high once the book was printed in paperback and publicized through book clubs. In 2004, it received the South African Booker Prize.

It was later translated into 42 languages from the original English, for publication in 38 countries. It was adapted for the first time on stage by Bay Area playwright Matthew Spangler in March 2007 to be performed at San Jose State University.

It was also adapted as a motion picture in 2017, starring Khalid Abdalla (Amir), Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (Hassan) and Homayoun Ershadi (Baba). It was also converted into a graphic novel in 2011.

Themes Involved

Amir and Baba’s relationship’s intricacies and how the dynamics change over time are one of the most focal points of the novel. While Amir spent most of his childhood and youth craving for Baba’s approval and praise, their move to California changed their bond substantially. Baba’s terminal cancer diagnosis makes him dependent on Amir and he finally lets his guard down.

Two of the other themes in the spotlight go hand in hand and cannot be separated from one another - guilt and redemption. Amir cautiously keeps his guilt intact for most of his life and spends years trying to repress it. But years later, Hassan’s tragic death forces him to search for redemption, in the form of rescuing Hassan’s son, Sohrab.

Famous Quotes

  1. “It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime...”

  2. “And that's the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

  3. “it always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place.”

  4. “There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”

  5. “There is only one sin. and that is theft... when you tell a lie, you steal someones right to the truth.”

  6. “It's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out.”

The Bottom Line

The Kite Runner is an extremely well-crafted medley of history and fiction, perfect for those who enjoy their fiction with a side of reality and vice versa.

Here’s a more serious read that will yank on your heart and brain, all the same!

My ratings for the book - 5 on 5

You can buy a copy from Amazon - The Kite Runner

Written By - Kristi Mazumdar

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