The first time I read The Kite Runner, I knew little about the culture of Afghanistan. I had a rudimentary understanding of the civil war that had been going on there, but I did not understand the differences between the many factions that were fighting. Since my completion of the novel, and Khaled Hosseini's follow-up, A Thousand Splendid Suns, I have read many articles about the history of Afghanistan since the 1970s, and I certainly would have benefited from having done this research before reading the two novels.
Just a few examples of improved clarity:
- Cultural differences between the Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara ethnic groups.
- Knowledge of the geographical regions of Afghanistan.
- Differences between the Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.
- Causes, outcomes and divisions of the various civil wars that took place during the 1990s.
- Knowledge of many of the real-life political and military leaders mentioned.
- Anything Taliban-related.