Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Kite Runner

It may be a bit strange to be talking about a book that came out 6 years ago, but since some commenters recommended The Kite Runner on one of my blog posts, I decided to check out the book. I guess the commenters mentioned the Kite Runner b/c the blog post was about the friendship between a British-Indian reporter and his Pashtun guide, which was an episode of the TV show Locked Up Abroad. The Kite Runner also involved friendship, but this time between a Pashtun and a Hazara, two ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Compared to The Kite Runner, those guys in the Locked Up Abroad episode had it easy. They just spent about a month in a Pakistani jail. hehe. Nobody died in that story, at least. The Kite Runner is a bit different. Characters die (or nearly die) left and right. Definitely lots of sad moments.

The story takes place in Afghanistan, Pakistan and California. I knew a little bit about Afghanistan from the news and from Ahmad Rashid's book Taliban, but its different when a novel is set in Afghanistan and characters created. They just seem more alive in the hands of a good novelist. The frequent mention of Afghan food also made me want to look for Afghan restaurants here in the Bay Area. hehe.

As for the film version of the book, I haven't seen it yet. I might be disappointed though. I checked the movie's official website and I'm already thinking to myself that some of the castmembers don't look like how I envisioned the characters. For instance, I thought the Hazara characters would look more Chinese, for example and that Baba would be fatter ... err... I mean bigger. hehe.

My only quibble with the book is that it had one too many twists and turns. ***Warning: Spoilers ahead. Oddly enough, the book mentions that Afghans don't mind spoilers. In fact, they want to know the ending of a film or book, whether the guy or girl in the film finds happiness in the end. hehe. But as I was saying, I think the story could've ended with Amir and Sohrab leaving Afghanistan. Sohrab attempting suicide was too much. I didn't think it was necessary b/c I think the story is about Amir and his chance to be a good person again and he already did that by risking his life to rescue Sohrab. End of Spoiler***

Other than that, I liked the book. Specifically, I liked the theme of redemption. Baba and Amir trying to redeem themselves through their actions -- Baba through his generosity and Amir by trying to rescue Sohrab . It's better than simply writing a happy ending in a novel like that character Briony in Atonement did. What is it about characters who are writers having a dark past? hehe.

Anyway, here's some quotes from the book that I liked:

1) For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his.

2) But the Bay Area's smog stung his eyes, the traffic noise gave him headaches, and the pollen made him cough.

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

4) We may be hardheaded and I know we're far too proud, but, in the hour of need, believe me that there's no one you'd rather have at your side than a Pashtun.

5) How could I, of all people, chastise someone for their past?

6) Sad stories make good books.

7) "Why didn't you leave?" I said. "Kabul was my home. It still is" [, replied Rahim Khan].

8) ... a boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up to anything.

9) And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.

10) ... better to get hurt by the truth than be comforted by a lie.

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