This powerful first novel...tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, Khaled Hosseini's privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country's revolution and its invasion by Russian forces … Hosseini's depiction of pre-revolutionary Afghanistan is rich in warmth and humor but also tense with the friction between the nation's different ethnic groups … Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence -- forces that continue to threaten them even today.
… [a] powerful book, perhaps because it contains no frills, no nonsense, just hard, spare prose … Hosseini extrudes it into an intimate account of family and friendship, betrayal and salvation that requires no atlas or translation to engage and enlighten us … Parts of The Kite Runner are raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written. Characters are physically deformed but endearingly noble. Homosexual rape is rampant, but its purpose is to expose hypocrisy and the abuse of power. Hosseini clearly loves his country as much as he hates what has become of it … This is not densely textured sociology but a tale told in simple brush strokes.
The Kite Runner, Hosseini's first novel, is more than just good writing. It is also a wonderfully conjured story that offers a glimpse into an Afghanistan most Americans have never seen and depicts a side of humanity rarely revealed … Through Amir and Hassan, we learn about the legacy of transgressions and the selfish actions that can destroy relationships. But what saves Hosseini's novel from becoming a mere tale of right and wrong is Amir, a man whose emotional journey inspires the plot … The games of childhood shift dramatically for Amir, along with the volatile political climate of Afghanistan. Hosseini deftly weaves historical elements into the story, describing the cultural death of Kabul through the eyes of Amir … The ride is exhilarating.
[Hosseini] instinctively hooked a great image but, alas, doesn't yet have the technique to bring it in for a landing. It's a small failing, symptomatic of this middlebrow but proficient, timely novel … Hosseini shows a much more natural talent when he stops telegraphing his themes and lets images do the work for him. All the material about the Afghan expatriate community in Fremont is fascinating … Hosseini has taken the sorrowful history of his tragically manipulated birthplace and turned it into informative, sentimental but nevertheless touching popular fiction. For every misstep...there's a grace note.
Hosseini conjures the awful feeling of guilt that childhood wrongdoing can induce, the fear that one is forever branded as the result of one's actions … A great deal of the charm of the novel lies in the richly detailed characterisation. Baba is emotionally complex, a compelling and troubled man at home and abroad who despairs when he cannot get his bookish son to enjoy watching football, let alone playing it … Hosseini loses his grip on events, however, in the final third of the book. Determined to thoroughly redeem his protagonist, he creates a series of parallels that allow Amir to undo some of his former wrongs, and a series of cringe-making coincidences that bring the story full circle … What starts as a fiercely moral but subtly told story becomes an unconvincing melodrama, more concerned with packing in the action than with fictional integrity.
Set primarily in Afghanistan, Kabul-born Hosseini’s poignant debut novel follows the complicated relationship between young Amir, his wealthy merchant father, and Hassan, his best friend and the son of his father’s servant … The Kite Runner offers a moving portrait of modern Afghanistan, from its pre-Russian-invasion glory days through the terrible reign of the Taliban.
Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s … The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut … Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium.
Amir and Hassan are great friends until they realize they aren't supposed to be, and then things begin to go wrong. For Amir, physically and morally the weaker of the two, guilt soon turns to cruelty, and Hassan, an angel of a boy, becomes the butt of his wealthy friend's jokes … One of the great strengths of The Kite Runner is its sympathetic portrayal of Afghans and Afghan culture...But as a novel, it falls short. The characters lack depth – Amir's guilt is as blank and unexplored as Hassan's goodness – and while some elements of the narrative ring true, others...read like hackneyed newspaper accounts … Hosseini writes with warmth and enviable familiarity about Afghanistan and its people, but as a novelist, he has a long way to go.