This is a book review written long ago before kevlow.com existed and was previously housed in another blog by Kevin L.
It was a very abrupt purchase. Harris was giving it a 50% discount together with another book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I just bought both together since they’re pretty decently priced for fiction. I normally don’t like to own fiction books because they’re usually printed on lousy paper for paperback versions and mostly because they have no particular reference value unlike non-fiction (not to mention the fact that I don’t re-read books).
Kite Runner is one of the rare good books that gives you a story based on a setting and culture very foreign to our own. As Asian, I can understand the way females are treated and how some of the traditions are somewhat biased against them although they are fortified with justifications usually based on the idea of ‘protecting’ the women. In the book I get to see the Pashtun people’s version of such in Afghanistan. I’ve long read about the Pashtun people in one issue of The Economist long time ago and I understood how they were more or less more abiding by their traditions and customs than that of the Muslim types of law (please don’t correct me if I’m wrong because I wrote all that based on my impression of what I’ve read in the article and I shan’t take responsibility for making any mistakes here).
In essence I saw the book as a narrative to learn about the lives of people in Afghanistan before the Soviet Occupation and all the subsequent wars fought there. I learnt the excuses of the different warring parties and I learnt about the lives of the people there after that. Otherwise, the narrative is about brotherhood, betrayal, ethnic discrimination and foreign cultures. It is definitely refreshing to get a dose of fiction amidst all the non-fiction reading I’ve been doing, including a ‘Apache, mySQL and PHP in 24 Hours’ (which of course I didn’t even read for 5 hours not to mention attempting to learn the entire book in 24 hours).
I’ll recommend it to people who’d like to know more about the Middle East, the diversity there, the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan in terms of the people. Alternatively, people who would like to see the people’s perspective of Afghanistan through their modern history would most likely be interested to explore the book as well. At times you’d find their cultures weird, extreme and slightly unnecessary but you will also find a thick sense of ties and kinship that you’ll almost find nowhere outside Asia.