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• Saturday, March 03rd, 2007

It’s Khaled Hosseini’s first novel published in 2003.

This is mainly a story of guilt and redemption:

The guilt of a 12 year old boy, Amir, who fails out of fear to stand up for his devoted servant and best friend, Hassan, while getting beaten and raped by bullies.

The relief of a redemption as an adult by going back to Kabul to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, whose parents had been shot by the Taliban, from the hands of the same bully who had become an important Taliban official.

Amir didn’t mind risking his life in order to escape from damnation and from being haunted by his disloyalty and cowardly actions.

He wanted to gain peace within himself and free his soul.

In the 4th line of part one in the book, Hosseini writes: “… That was a long time ago, but 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. Looking back now, I realise I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”

Hosseini manages to cover many themes in his first book with great success. He writes about love, honour, deceit, fear, redemption and about politics and its devious ways.

He also covers the life of Afghani immigrants in the United States of America.

The very close and vivid historical background takes us from the last days of the monarchy to the Russian invasion, then the rule of the Taliban and all the political turmoil up until nowadays.

Additionally, the touching story and the sympathetic characters and how real they seem to be, tend to bring to mind “The Kite Runner” as a memoir rather than as a novel.

After completing the last page one can’t help but feel emotionally involved. As Isabel Allende puts it so succinctly: “This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years … It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read after seemed bland.”

The strange thing is that Hosseini went back to Kabul after he wrote “The Kite Runner” and saw Kabul through the same eyes and memories of Amir who went back after 20 years absence.

Hosseini writes about it in the San Francisco Chronicle of August 10th 2003. The title is: “Following Amir – A Trip To Afghanistan In Which Life Imitates Art”.

After reading “The Kite Runner” I couldn’t help but finding some analogies with “The Shadow Of The Wind” by Zafon. To mention a few:

* The corrupted, sadistic, vengeful inspector Fumero and the sadistic, corrupted vengeful Taliban official, Assef.

* In “The Shadow Of The Wind” the book ends the way it started by Daniel taking his son, Julian, to the cemetery of forgotten books, like how Daniel, a few years earlier, was taken by his own father to the same place to choose a book.
By comparison, in “The Kite Runner” the book ends by Amir taking Hassan’s son, Sohrab, to a kite-flying competition, and finds himself repeating to Sohrab the same words that Hassan told him a few years previously while running after the kite “For you a thousand times over”.

I’d like to end with these few words that Rahim Khan wrote to his friend Amir: “… I want you to understand that good, real good, was born out of your father’s remorse. Sometimes I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir Jan, when guilt leads to good.” Then referring to Amir, he said: “There is a way to be good again, he’d said. A way to end the cycle. With a little boy. An orphan. Hassan’s son. Somewhere in Kabul.”

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