Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Kite Runner :: Book Review

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rating: 2.75/5

Story: 3/5
Presentation: 1/5
Writing Style: 1/5
Characterization: 3/5

Total: 8/20
Avg: 2/5

Additional 0.75 for the author's first novel.

Grand Total: 2.75/5

I've never felt the need to justify my ratings. But it is the masses, who claim this book to be amazingly written and wonderfully narrated; for them are the details required. And if 'they' can put it in words as to how and why they say it, it'll do the world of literature a whole lot good I say.

The story, narrated by Amir (the protagonist), is a recount of his life. It begins with his childhood in Afghanistan where he used to live with his father, Baba, and his very close comrade, Hassan. They flew kites, ran kites, had huge parties etc. Until one day Hassan gets raped by Assef, the villain lets say, and Amir does nothing to save him. It later takes us to America, where Amir completes his education and marries. Sadly, his wife cannot bear him children. Further on Amir comes back to Afghanistan to redeem himself from his past, his misdeeds to Hassan, by 'rescuing' Hassan's child from Assef (who then becomes a Talib). And of course, Amir adopts Sohrab (Hassan's child). End of story.

From the dirt fields, gardens and kites of Afghanistan, to the wide roads of America, to a developing Pakistan and finally to the Taliban ruled Afghanistan; Khaled Hosseni's protgonist, Amir, takes us through a jumpy ride described in mediocre sentences with parsi thrown here and there for (I presume) 'cultural richness'. The book starts well, building up good pace steadily with a warm characterization. Up to one-third of the book holds you well. In fact it makes you read it non stop. Makes it un-put-down-able. Yeah that's the word. After Hassan's rape and the unceremonious escape of Baba and Amir to Pakistan, the story falters. Thence begins some dramatic incidences, described in a very mediocre manner, holding no relation to the plot. The return to Afghanistan and the whole rescuing of the boy was utterly dramatic, reminding me repeatedly of some typical Hindi movie. There was no 'reality' in the whole content.

My biggest problem with the book is this: What had to be told was not! The author repeatedly describes in length the unimportant things and the things that matter, that are required for the story are forgotten. Baba's purity and later his impurity and how Amir deals with it are left behind. When Baba has uttered something as strong as, 'When you lie, you steal a man's right to truth', surely it must have something to do with the plot to the man who told it. Not done.

That and the whole narration is so cliched, that it makes it impossible to appreciate it. Things like,
'The driver pulled up to a narrow building at a busy corner where two winding streets intersected. I paid the driver, took my lone suitcase, and walked up to the intricately carved door.'
and
'So I left the room and went looking for another hotel, unaware that almost a year would pass before I would hear Sohrab speak another word.
and
'The grape was sweet. I popped another one into my mouth, unaware that it would be the last bit of solid food I would eat for a long time.'
make me wonder the reason why the readers are being fed with such mediocrity? 80% of the book is written that way. Nothing refreshing. Nothing original. The cliches make it really intolerable and unappreciative.

Of course the emotional quotient exists in the book. It makes you feel. Feel for the little boy Hassan, feel for his son Sohrab, feel for the way the past haunts a person (in this case, both Baba and Amir). The reviews that I have read in appreciation of the book bank only on the emotional quotient of the book. That aside, very little can be appreciated in the book. It alone cannot hold a book a genius.

To conclude, I blame the masses to make this book popular. For too long have they been exposed to mediocre work and this book comes as a refreshing tale for them. This book is majorly appreciated by the people of the Indian subcontinent for it 'touches' them and by the West, for it justifies what their countries did to the already ripped Afghanistan.

I've read many other multicultural works and I can safely say, The Kite Runner, can most certainly not justify this genre of literature. To quote a friend, The sad part about this book is that it will allow America both to feel sympathy with the mid-east conflict, and also to retain a sense of superiority over the Muslims and their 'backwards, classicist, warlike' ways. Even after all of that, they will not really have come to any understanding of the vast and vital economic concerns which have made the mid-east so important to the future of the world. That's how I'd put it too.

A sad read.


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