The Kite Runner

I am not into reading the "hot" list doing the rounds in libraries and NYtimes. I wanted to try this one because a couple of my friends seemed to think highly of it. The reviews said something about Afganistan,and dad- son stuff and the like. "Wow , what an intelligent way to make money!" I thought. Your have an Afgan born, American writer, who writes about Taliban, and human suffering pre and post 9/11, and the good old movie formula of some friendship, and dad-son senti and boom! There you go! You have the right formula to a superhit American novel. This was the usual cynic in me speaking.

After reading this one, I knew one thing. The reviews did no justice to the book at all. They tell you what is written, not how it is written.There are very few books , which deal with emotions and feelings without getting icky-sticky and mushy. There are very few books which make you feel good about having feelings at all. Books that say "Hey wait a minute, this does not need to be a clinical research paper on symbology or anthropology, and you can still like it."A book that says "Hey,this is not a maudlin, tearjerker that you can forget your brains at work to read, and you can still relate to it."

The Kite Runner, is about an intensely personal account of a rich Afgan boy, who later migrates to the US.The political uncertainity , and fundamentalism in Afganisthan, is gently draped around, and peeks through their lives, unobtrusively - not too loud, not too judgemental.It is not Ayn Rand - It does not lash out against ethnic cleansing, it does not push any high flown democracy down your throat. It is not Daniel steele either - It doesnt eulogize the Dad-Son bond.

The one thing that crossed my mind repeatedly as I was reading the book was - "Ok now, something is disturbingly familiar about this book." When I reached the climax, I was able to place it. It was around my fifth standard. My annual exam, and I refused to put down "Swami and friends". At the end of it I cried. This book brings in me the same feeling I get when I read any R.K Narayan. So simple, yet so powerful.

The story revolves around the rich,spoilt, meek protagonist, his dad and his best friend - his man servant. These are everyday human beings, make choices, and live with the choices they make. The choices they make have powerful, and everlasting influence in their lives, in a war-torn country with scant respect for human lives. What is refreshing about the book, is also the fact that the hero is fallible. He does not simply do the "right" thing everytime. He is a silent spectator to injustice. He runs away to another land, and turns a blind eye. He almost lets go of his only chance to do away with his guilt. And then slowly, and gradually , he deals with the ghosts of his past and finds happiness.

In all , a welcome break from the insipid murder mysteries, which , I guess I have finally grown out of. A must read too.
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