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It is no criticism to say that Khaled Hosseini's new novel is kind of The Kite Runner from the distaff point of view. After all, that fine earlier book is a monster best-seller and favorite choice of book groups, while one of the biggest problems plaguing the Islamic world is the failure to give women adequate consideration. Moreover, a nation that has had as troubled a history as Afghanistan certainly has many stories to tell us and Mr. Hosseini shows himself, once again, to be a fabulous storyteller.

The book opens, in the early 70s, with Mariam, the harami (bastard) daughter of a middle class father and the hysterical mother his several wives force out of his household. Upon the mother's suicide, the child is forcibly married to a much older and unpleasant cobbler from Kabul, who views her as nothing more than a brood sow.

The tale shifts to the late '80s and nine-year old Laila, spoiled by her intellectual father, but nearly ignored by the mother who pines away for the two sons who are away fighting with the mujahadeen. The lives of the two women are set against the backdrop of a Kabul that suffers under the Soviets, communists, mujahadeen, Taliban and, finally, the post-911 regime change. Hosseini intertwines fictional lives with historical events quite organically and eventually knits together the lives of his dual heroines.

Though the book is, inevitably given the times in which it is set, often heartbreaking, it ends on a hopeful note. The reader finishes it filled with admiration for the endurance of the Afghan people, particularly the women and children who have borne the brunt of thirty years of war.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

Websites:

Khaled Hosseini Links:

    -BOOK SITE: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
    -Khaled Hosseini (Wikipedia)
    -Barnes & Noble.com - Khaled Hosseini - Books: Meet the Writers
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Khaled Hosseini (IMDB.com)
    -EXCERPT: Excerpt from 'The Kite Runner' By Khaled Hosseini
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Khaled Hosseini (Amazon.com, April 2007)
    -PODCAST: Khaled Hoseeini (Diane Rehm, 5/22/07)
    -PODCAST: Khaled Hosseini (Leonard Lopate Show, June 2007, NPR)
    -INTERVIEW: Q&A: Author of "The Kite Runner" revisits Afghanistan in new novel (Haley Edwards, 6/01/07, Seattle Times)
    -ARTICLE: Literary lions poised to roar (Sue Gilmore, 3/25/07, Contra Costa Times)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: An Afghan Story: Khaled Hosseini and 'Kite Runner' (Fresh Air from WHYY, August 11, 2005)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: 'The Kite Runner' (Liane Hansen, July 27, 2003, Weekend Edition)
    -INTERVIEW: with Khaled Hosseini (Razeshta Sethna, November 2003, Newsline)
KH: I wanted to write about Afghanistan before the Soviet war because that is largely a forgotten period in modern Afghan history. For many people in the west, Afghanistan is synonymous with the Soviet war and the Taliban. I wanted to remind people that Afghans had managed to live in peaceful anonymity for decades, that the history of the Afghans in the twentieth century has been largely pacific and harmonious.

Q: What are your recollections of the last days of the Afghan monarchy and the subsequent invasion of the Soviet forces?

A: Kabul was a thriving cosmopolitan city with its vibrant artistic, intellectual and cultural life. There were poets, musicians, and writers. There was also an influx of western culture, art, and literature in the '60s and '70s. My family left Afghanistan in 1976, well before the Communist coup and the Soviet invasion. We certainly thought we would be going back. But when we saw those Soviet tanks rolling into Afghanistan, the prospect for return looked very dim. Few of us, I have to say, envisioned that nearly a quarter century of bloodletting would follow.

Q: Is Amir's youth synonymous with your adolescence?

A: I experienced Kabul with my brother the way Amir and Hassan do: long school days in the summer, kite fighting in the winter time, westerns with John Wayne at Cinema Park, big parties at our house in Wazir Akbar Khan, picnics in Paghman. I have very fond memories of my childhood in Afghanistan, largely because my memories, unlike those of the current generation of Afghans, are untainted by the spectre of war, landmines, and famine.

    -INTERVIEW: 5 questions for Khaled Hosseini (Carol Memmott, 5/02/07, USA TODAY)
    -READING GROUP GUIDE: The Kite Runner (Penguin Books)
    -ARCHIVES: "Khaled Hosseini (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Edward Hower, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (David Kipen, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Amelia Hill, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Kim Bunce, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Stephen M. Deusner, Book Reporter)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Sue Bond, Asian Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (KENNETH CHAMPEON, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Sudheer Apte, Desi Journal)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (BookBrowse)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Kurshid Assenjee, Open Democracy)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Afghanland.com)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Margaret K., Dexter, Teen Ink)
    -REVIEW: of The Kite Runner (Bob Corbett, Webster.edu)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Jane Ciabattari, LA The Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Natasha Walter, The Guardian )
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Ashley Simpson Shires, Special To The Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hamida Ghafour, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Alan Marshall, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Joan Smith, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Katherine TomlinsonRichmond.com)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Susanna Bullock, St. Louis POST-DISPATCH)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Chandrahas Choudhury, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of A Thousand Splendid Suns (Anne Marlowe, Weekly Standard)

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