The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Book Review and PDF)

Khaled Hosseini's narrative brilliance shines in unexpected ways with this masterpiece. It is quite difficult to believe this is a debut novel.

The story takes us through the personal life of Amir as narrated by him. It is a reminiscence of his life in and out of Afghanistan.

Amir lived with his father, Baba, in an affluent neighborhood in the northern part of Kabul, Afghanistan. As it was common among the Pashtuns, the family had servants of a lesser ethnic minority, Ali and his son, Hassan, who were Hazaras.

Hassan and Amir lost their mothers at birth under different circumstances and had to be breastfed by the same Hazara woman Baba hired. They shared a bond. Their friendship happened naturally but with a different outlook due to tribal segregation.

During that time, Afghanistan's king was overthrown by his cousin.

In the wake of the overthrow, Hassan and Amir (while playing in the streets) encountered Assef, the bully, and his two friends who threatened to beat up Amir for befriending a Hazara. As always, Hassan stood up to defend Amir. With a weaponized slingshot in his hands, they were able to escape Assef, who promised a payback.

Amir, weak and insecure, had always craved his father's love. He would do anything to make Baba look at him the way he wanted. This prompted him to take part in a kite-fighting tournament later during the winter. The tournament involved cutting the string of your opponent's kite by covering the string of your kite in shards of glass. Another tradition, of almost equal importance, which happened alongside the tournament was the kite-running. It involved retrieving lost kites.

With the help of Hassan, Amir won the tournament, and Hassan, being the best kite-runner, took off to retrieve the losing kite. 

Later, when Amir went looking for Hassan, he found him at the end of an alley, surrounded by Assef and his friends. Amir then secretly watched as Assef raped Hassan after the latter refused to give up his kite. He did nothing to help. He ran away.

When Hassan returned with the kite, Amir pretended that he saw nothing. The two boys began to drift apart, and Amir, who was stricken by guilt, decided to frame Hassan for theft. He believed one of them had to leave for him to survive his guilt.  When Baba confronted Hassan, he admitted to it regardless of having taken nothing. Shortly after this, Hassan and his father moved away from Kabul. Will Amir be able to fill the void in his life? Will Hassan and Amir's path ever cross again? Little did they know that their entire lives were about to be turned upside down.

The most remarkable thing about The Kite Runner, apart from its unique narrative, is its depth. Khaled Hosseini conjures Afghanistan with such intimacy that you feel you have sauntered its streets and breathe its air.

The characters are well-formed, unforgettable, and the emotional attachments to them were practically unavoidable.

It is a gripping tale of brutal honesty. Each word was carefully picked, one deliberately leading to the next. Usually, it is my style to study as I read, but I couldn't even do that. You cannot just not read the next word because the previous one has put you on edge already. This feeling particularly gained height during the kite run that shattered Hassan and Amir's lives. Oh, the sadness that ensued made tears fall out of my eyes like the lose kites that descended in shame.

The Kite Runner encompasses the hardship suffered by people, families during the Soviet and the Taliban's occupations of Afghanistan. It is a story of endless love, betrayal, hope, and all diminutive things you can relate with in a normal life setting. Why, then, won't I recommend it to everyone? 

For the record, I rate it 5 out of 5.


Hosseini is a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and lives in northern California.


Genre: Fiction
Published: 2003
Publisher: Riverhead Books
ISBN: 1594480001
Awards: Penguin/Orange Readers' Group Prize 2006 and 2007.


  1. Your reviews always make me feel motivated to read books even when I'm being extremely lazy. Good job Mr. Awesome lool.

    1. I'm glad my reviews have that effect on you. Mr. Awesome? I feel like James Bond already. Hehe


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