Maria Elena Caballero-Robb
Maria Elena Caballero-Robb earned her Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She works in publishing and teaches courses in U.S. literature and culture and composition. In this essay, Caballero-Robb interprets Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner as a work that intertwines the private and public realms of experience.
Perhaps what garnered Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner, so much early praise, aside from the political relevance of its subject matter when the book was published in 2003, is its successful intertwining of the personal and the political. The novel has an ambitious agenda: to sketch the maturation of its protagonist from a callow boy beguiled by mythical stories of heroes and to portray the political situation of contemporary Afghanistan. The novel begins to show how the personal and the political affect one another through the peculiar relationship between Amir and Hassan. Indeed, James O'Brien, in his review in the Times Literary Supplement, argues, "this muddled, unbalanced and ultimately tragic relationship" between the privileged Amir and the servant Hassan "lies at the heart of The Kite Runner and echoes the betrayals and power shifts that begin to shape the country shortly after the story begins." Through the course of the novel, Amir's personal quest takes him on a decades-long journey from his birth country to the United States and finally back to his country...
(The entire section is 2096 words.)
In the following review, O'Brien discusses the author's use of voice, and how the two main characters reflect the character of Afghanistan itself.
Rare is the exiled author whose remembrances of home resist becoming rose-tinted as the years pass. Given the ravages visited on Afghanistan since the young Khaled Hosseini and his family sought political asylum in the United States in 1980, the foremost of many triumphs in this startling first novel must be that its consideration of cultural, religious and deeply personal upheavals remains cool and considered throughout. Hosseini's own profession—he is a doctor—perhaps provides a more convincing explanation of his narrator's unemotional tone than the fictional claim that he has become an English-language author of some repute.
Amir is twelve when the novel begins in 1975, but the seeds of his story were sown much earlier. He "killed" his mother in childbirth and, a bookish, somewhat sickly child, has done little since to earn either affection or respect from his father. Amir's only solace is Hassan, his hare-lipped servant and best friend. It is this muddled, unbalanced and ultimately tragic relationship that lies at the heart of The Kite Runner and echoes the betrayals and power shifts which begins to shape the country shortly after the story begins.
The two boys suckled at the same breast—it belonged to a wet nurse; Hassan's mother quit her humdrum existence in...
(The entire section is 585 words.)
In the following essay, Noor reviews The Kite Runner as a novel about sin and redemption, but contends that it fails to give a complete picture of the Afghan conflict.
The Kite Runner is Khaled Hosseini's best-selling first novel. It is the very first novel in English by an Afghan, in which a thirty-eight-year-old writer named Amir recounts the odyssey of his life from Kabul to San Francisco via Peshwar, Pakistan. The protagonist was born into a wealthy family in Kabul. Raised by his father, his mother having passed away during his birth, Amir lives a relatively happy life until the Soviet tanks roll into Afghanistan. Then he and his family flee to Pakistan and end up in America. In the United States, his father becomes a gas-station manager, selling junk on weekends with his son at the San Jose flea market. Amir meets Soraya, the daughter of a former Afghan general, and soon ties the knot with her.
For fifteen years the young couple tries in vain to have children. Then Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, a friend and former business partner of his now-deceased father. Amir flies to Peshwar to meet with him. Rahim Khan reveals that Hassan, Amir's childhood friend, the presumed son of the family servant Ali, was in reality Amir's half-brother, his father's illegitimate son with Ali's wife. Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban. Rahim Khan wants Amir to go to Kabul and bring Hassan's son to Peshwar. After much...
(The entire section is 517 words.)
In the following excerpt, Hosseini discusses how being a physician gives him a compassionate insight to humanity and makes him a better writer.
Khaled Hosseini. (Physician writers)
A blinking little red light. Another voice mail. Didn't I just go through them? I sat down. I never delay listening to voice mails; call it a compulsion, a personal quirk.
I put down Mrs CR's chart and dialed my answering machine. It was my father-in-law, telling me he had loved my short story, The Kite Runner, but wished it had been longer. At some point between the instant I put down the receiver and the moment I knocked on the door to tell Mrs CR about her diabetic nephropathy, a seed planted itself in my mind: I was going to turn The Kite Runner into a novel.
And so it began. For the next 15 months, I tapped away at the keyboard. I created a troubled, 12-year-old boy named Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy Pashtun merchant living in Kabul, Afghanistan, circa 1975, and his angelic friend Hassan, a minority Hazara and the son of Amir's crippled servant. I developed a deep and unusual friendship between the boys, only to make Amir betray Hassan in an unspeakable way. I shattered the boy's lives. I watched the brutalised Hassan pay the price for his guileless devotion to Amir, and watched Amir grow into a brooding, haunted, guilt-ridden man in the USA. Then I sent Amir back to Kabul, now ruled by the Taliban, on one...
(The entire section is 744 words.)