It has been some time since I've read a book I could not put down. What is out there these days is either too involved to keep my interest, too long, or simply not close to my Middle Eastern heart. Last year, when the book, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini came out, I bought it for my husband. He finished the three hundred plus pages in a matter of days and told me he loved it, but wouldn't recommend it to me.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, I know how you are. It's going to make you miserable.”
That did the trick at the time. I was going through a phase when I could not handle additional – not to mention self inflicted – sorrow. I continued to read humor, and watched movies with a guaranteed good ending and in time felt strong enough to pick up the book.
A slow reader, I finished it in four days. I put the book down feeling not only richer with new knowledge of a country I only knew as a neighbor of Iran, but I was reacquainted with emotions so familiar, they could have been my own.
Dr. Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan born author, probes the life of his people with such precision that it becomes the readers' life. Through his words I felt the brutality that Afghanistan experienced under the cruel hands of the Taliban. I also looked at a simple life through the innocent eyes of an Afghani boy and followed him to end of the age of innocence.
A gifted writer, Hosseini opens old wounds the way only those familiar with pain are able to. Through his artistic prose and poetic style he depicts what no camera and no news report has succeeded to show. From the start, he draws the reader into an emotional scene that looks familiar and introduces characters who are not unknown to human heart.
Did I feel that way because of the similarities between our cultures? Was I drawn to names with Persian origin, enthralled by Persian poetry? Did the pure and beautiful language of those characters make me feel closer to them? Perhaps. But as a writer, I saw more, much more.
The Kite Runner may be – as my husband put it – a disturbing tragedy. But if I were to recommend one contemporary novel to a friend, this would be the one. Not only is the story engaging, and a definite page turner, but its literary value is hard to overlook.
No doubt Hollywood is going to get wind of this and we may soon see the movie posters. But I would strongly urge the readers to reach for the real story before the movie industry changes it into what would suit the needs of the box office.
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a freelance writer, poet and artist. She lives in San Diego, California.
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