Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Starting the ball rolling or the kite flying...?

I thought I'd start the ball rolling on the posts for The Kite runner although I suspect that others' more perceptive comments may inspire me to add more later...

I really enjoyed this book. I had a vested interest in the subject matter as my father used to be a kite-fighter as a young boy, albeit in India and, I confess, I never fully believed his stories of the glass in the string!

I thought Hosseini's desciptions were wonderful, of Afghanistan as a place, the individual characters and culteral events (the wedding was fascinating). The political landscape was also very sensitively handled and was informative without being too over bearing(in contrast to A Suitable Boy - thank goodness, no speeches here!).

I thought the 'redemptive' aspect of the plot was quite predictable - it was fairly obvious he would go back to Afghanistan, as childless adopt Hassan's son, and face Assef again. Although, having said that, I found the suicide at the end very shocking and was deeply moved when Sohrab recovered. I thought for one horrendous moment Hosseini was going to leave us with total despair and I would not have been able to cope with that. However, I'm glad he also didn't finish with everything 'rosy' but instead opted for a more morderate, but far more plausible ending.

I felt there were alot of theological themes running throughout the book, although I have not thought them through fully. In addition to the obvious theme of redemption, there was also the more subtle concepts of 'grace' and 'legalism'; grace embodied in the actions of Hassan and then Sohrab, legalism in the attitudes held by Baba and Amir. Might it be too far-fetched to parallel this with the legalistic view of Islam as seen by the Taliban in contrast to that practised by Ali and maybe even Amir in the end?

I thought that the most poignant thing about the book was that Hosseini managed to maintain the idea of hope and redemption throughout. I noticed, after reading the book, that one reviewer likened it to A God of Small Things by Arundati Roi. I really disliked that book and never finished it. Whereas both described some nasty scenes I felt that the overall feel of Roi's book was impending disaster and hopelessness, whereas Hosseini managed to maintain a much more positive outlook which enabled me to continue reading. Perhaps this is due to the way he split the book into two: the 'fall' and then the 'redemption'?

Although it was rape and not murder, for a disaster-befalls-young-child novel this was a good one!