“Kite Runner”, written by Khaled Hosseini, was published a few years ago and has been a New York Times best-seller. Not surprisingly it was made into a movie, which is showing at theaters. (it was released on Feb. 9 in Japan)
When I asked my friend to buy this book as a souvenir from the US, I didn’t know much about this book except a good reputation. But on receiving this book, I was absorbed in reading it.
The story is in Afghanistan in the late 70s.
Amir and Hassan are same age and grow up together like brothers but their positions are quite different.
Amir is Pashtun, the majority, and his father is a brave and wealthy businessman respected by his friends and neighbors, while Hassan is Hazara, the minority and discriminated, and his father is a servant to Amir’s father.
Their relationship ends on the day of a kite tournament.
Hassan is beaten bitterly and raped by Pashtun bullies when chasing the falling kite for Amir and running into a desolate area.
Amir, following Hassan, witnesses the incident but fails to prevent it in fear (plus, he doesn't regards Hassan a friend after all.)
Driven by guilt, Amir grows apart from Hassan and finally he and his father moves to the USA due to the Soviet invasion.
Almost 20 years have past. Amir receives a call, which brings him back to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and takes an opportunity to atone for his sin.
I should stop here for not spoiling in case you are interested in watching the movie or reading the book. But briefly Amir eventually adopts Hassan’s son and flies a kite together in California.
This movie gets into the news not only because its base is a million-seller book.
I happened to watch the director's interview on the ABC news, saying he pursued the authenticity in producing the movie so that casts were chosen from the Afghan, though it was shot in China.
Because of this authenticity, four of its young Afghan stars received death threats due to the rape scene and the studio had to delay the opening of the film and asked some expert to analyze the impact of this film on the region and on the casts. After all the boys’ families flee the country and live in the United Arab Emirates. It also seems to stir the sensitive race issues in Afghanistan which was rather winding down recently.
This is a novel, not fallen in a non-fiction category.
But I was able to get some ideas what the life in Afghanistan was like, and how Afghan people see the Soviet-invasion or Taliban-control from the point of an Afghan author's view.
For example, flying kites is quite popular among Afghan people, you cannot even ask out before engagement, women are not treated equally to men and wives would be blamed if their husbands have affairs, initially the Afghan people welcome the Pashtun-centered Taliban who had eventually threw Soviet soldiers away, but gradually they became afraid of Taliban.
Time to time, we have heard the news of Afghanistan and Taliban since 9.11. Especially since last fall when Japan’s Democrat Party Leader Ozawa insisted that Japan’s Self Defense Forces should be sent to the Afghan ground instead of being sent to the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan has become an issue.
In fact, in spite of international efforts, the Afghan situation is not getting better and a couple days ago, Germany decided to send troops there to comply with US and other NATO members’ request. Japan may be under the same pressure.
Though I have heard news on this country, I haven’t read a book focused on it. As the author’s father was a diplomat and moved to the USA when he was young, his ideas and values may not reflect the average Afghan people. Still this book makes me feel real what I have heard on the news.
By the way, its Japanese title is “thousands time for you”, which Hassan always says to Amir. Which title is more appealed to you?