Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

You would have heard of the movie for this one. It achieved some fame when the two Afghani child actors had to be smuggled out of Afghanistan for their own protection. Apparently, acting in a rape scene put their lives at risk. I haven't seen the movie, I'd be interested to hear what people thought of it.

This book is in two parts. The first part is a child's impression of living in a relatively stable and developed third-world, feudal country before the rest of the world decided to use that particular patch of ground as a World War-by-proxy. The first part continues with a story of poor outsiders attempting to make a new life in a very different world. This part of the novel is very, very good: it's a charming view into a destroyed world that we don't hear much about it, and certainly nothing good. Continued with a very real feeling tale of making the best of a potentially unpleasant world, and building a new life there.

My recommendation is to read this first part and then stop. I'll tell you what, send me your copy of the book, I'll remove the second part and then it back to you. Because the second part is just plain terrible.

The second part is a long sermon on how damaged Afghanistan is now. I don't have a problem with being told this. I do actually think us cozy, safe residents in front of our TVs need more confrontation of the destruction done on our behalf. And I'm not uncomfortable with placing blame: the entire first world and all the individual citizens therein, are responsible. But, oh my God! Is this ever preaching! Yes, Afghanistan is in a very bad state. We see that, we know that. The real effect and impression of the damage done comes not from preaching, but from the contrast of what we hear and see with what we read in the first part of this book. Beyond the preaching, there is also a monotonous tone and freaky coincidences to wear you.

My advice again, read the first part and then stop. Pretend the book is over. You'll enjoy it better that way, trust me.


Matthew said...

Interesting post on the Kite Runner. You're the first person I've heard mention that the last half of the book is just one long sermon. I've been meaning to read it for ages. I was going to ask for a page number so I know when to toss it aside but I think I'll read it so I can decide whether you're right (given my contrary nature I'll probably be back to argue with you).

Giles said...

You'll know the point to stop. It's very obvious. Perhaps the sermon thing is just me: I like my messages subtle, non-existent or of my own devising.

I'm interested to hear what you think after reading.

Kate said...

Hi Giles,

sorry that last post was from me. Whenever Matt leaves his computer without logging out I try to jump on and edit his facebook info. It's to get back at him for being so anal about security. Anyway he noticed rather quickly this morning damn it :-). I am intending to read the Kite Runner and will post an opinion from me, not Matt. I agree with you on the message thing though, I'd much rather be persuaded by a convincing story than beat over the head with a not so subtle sermon.