THE KITE RUNNER, Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, focuses on the relationship between two Afghan boys --- Amir, the novel’s narrator and the son of a prosperous Kabul businessman, and Hassan, the son of Ali, a servant in the household of Amir’s father. Amir is a Pashtun and Sunni Muslim, while Hassan is a Hazara and a Shi’a. Despite their ethnic and religious differences, Amir and Hassan grow to be friends, although Amir is troubled by Hassan’s subservience, and his relationship with his companion, one year his junior, is ambivalent and complex.
The other source of tension in Amir’s life is his relationship with Baba, his hard-driving and demanding father. Desperate to win his father’s affection and respect, Amir turns to the sport of kite flying, and at the age of 12, with the assistance of Hassan, he wins the annual tournament in Kabul. But Amir’s victory soon is tarnished when he witnesses a vicious assault against his friend, who has raced through the streets of Kabul to retrieve the last kite Amir had sliced from the sky, and fails to come to his aid. Amir’s cowardice is compounded by a later act of betrayal that causes Ali and Hassan to leave their home, and he now faces the nightmare prospect of bearing the burden of his ill-fated choices for the rest of his life.
"Khaled Hosseini’s novel offers a potent combination of a setting in an exotic land that has taken on increasing importance to Americans in the last several years with a compelling human drama."
In 1981, following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Amir and Baba flee the country for California, where Amir attends college, marries and becomes a successful novelist. Amir’s world is shaken in 2001 when he receives a call from his father’s best friend, informing him that “There is a way to be good again.” That call launches him on a harrowing journey to rescue Hassan’s son Sohrab, orphaned by the brutal Taliban, and at the same time redeem himself from the torment of his youthful mistakes.
Hosseini, a native of Afghanistan who left the country at the age of 11 and settled in the United States in 1980, does a marvelous job of introducing readers to the people and culture of his