J.G. Keely’s review of The Kite Runner > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Possum (new)

Possum Paderau "The point shouldn't be to separate the 'good Muslims' from the 'bad Muslims', because people aren't fundamentally good or bad. They are fundamentally people. Almost without exception, they are looking out for their future, their children, and their communities. Calling someone 'evil' merely means you have ceased to try understanding their point of view, and decided instead to merely hate for hatred's sake."

Beautifully said.

message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex Beautifully written review from start to finish. Bravo.

message 3: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Thanks guys. Glad you enjoyed it.

message 4: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker Superb review, and very well said.

message 5: by J.G. Keely (last edited Jan 07, 2012 01:17AM) (new)

J.G. Keely Originally a response to a comment from a now-deleted member which read: "Your review reminds me of those hypocrites who say 'I can't be racist, I have a black friend' and think that means something."

I'd say it's more like saying "I can't be racist, I'm black!"

Glad you liked the review; you, too, Whitaker.

message 6: by Minhazul (new)

Minhazul Hoque I have also read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Culture plays a very important role in which one becomes. The culture in the novel is Afghan culture and tradition, and certainly there are many examples throughout the story providing support for this given culture and how it affects the protagonist, Amir. Hosseini discusses that culture plays significant role in whom one becomes because it associates with daily life and it makes you the person who you are. Furthermore, an individual that follows culture and tradition may develop new skills. “The kite-fighting tournament was an old winter tradition in Afghanistan” (Hosseini 51). Amir loves kite-fighting. He believes that this maybe the only way for him to earn and key to Baba’s heart. Amir is professional and very competitive when it comes to kite-fighting. He has won a tournament in Kabul one winter out of all the hundreds of other kite fighters. His father was very proud of him. However, kite-fighting has made Amir a coward since this was the only way to earn Baba’s heart Amir devoted his strength and skills to kite-fighting. He has told Hassan, his servant to run the kite. Assef finds Hassan and tells him hand the kite over. Hassan refuses and is raped. Amir watches this happen. Amir does help Hassan because he is a coward doesn’t give a single effort to demonstrate responsibility which is what Baba has been trying to do but he is unable to do this. This single moment/day changes the whole course of Amir’s life and makes him a different person.

message 7: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Minhazul wrote: "This single moment/day changes the whole course of Amir’s life and makes him a different person. "

And how does this make the book more meaningful, pertinent, or interesting to us as readers?

message 8: by J.G. Keely (last edited Aug 12, 2010 06:09PM) (new)

J.G. Keely EDIT: This comment and several of the following were originally a response to a certain fellow who made it his mission to defend 'The Kite Runner' against its many detractors. After a lengthy discussion on both his review and mine, on which there were a number of good points on both sides, he decided to delete all of his comments (and mine) with nary a word.

I guess my comment about 'taking your ball and going home' proved all too apt. It's all quite unfortunate, I'd almost thought we'd begun to get somewhere.

I suppose I torture myself out of a sense of fairness: I could have stopped reading this book after the first few chapters, when I recognized that it was neither well-written nor insightful, but I felt the need to see through what I had started.

And in the end, there was something wonderful about the lessons I learned from finishing it. I only wish they had been lessons about the remarkable things a writer could achieve, not what he should avoid.

I'm sorry for my clumsiness; I know any time I read a book, I feel the author's style begin to infect me, often bleeding out into my reviews, and in this case, I no doubt contracted some of Hosseini's awkward, unfortunate construction. Luckily, my natural defenses are strong (having fended off a lengthy bout of genre fantasy in my youth) and I was soon feeling right as rain.

(Note: this is a rhetorical response to a rhetorical comment, and hence absurd. Any appearance of debate, sarcasm, or refutation is unintentional, and should not interfere with taking your ball and going home. If it does, consult a physician immediately.)

message 9: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely If you want serious responses, then make serious comments.

Your pretension in telling me what is good for me is not appreciated; your insults about my writing have no bearing on the discussion; and your assumption that your comment is good enough to be heard, while my response to it is not, is disrespectful; particularly because you are commenting on my review.

If you want to say something worthwhile, then disagree with my specific observations, or present your own views on the book. I appreciate that you've tried to do this with your own review, and was glad to read it.

I'll continue my observations there.

message 10: by J.G. Keely (last edited Aug 12, 2010 03:36PM) (new)

J.G. Keely Rajeev wrote: "Either you though I was joking or you're being condescending."

I was suggesting that you were being condescending instead of putting forth a strong argument of your own, as you might have done if you desired a serious response, which I understand you didn't, but I'm not sure it's fair for you to demand both that I not respond, and that I do so while refraining from sarcasm.

I see you also wish to school me on Aristotelian rhetoric. Feel free to deconstruct my arguments and present their flaws, which might be of more effect than simply insulting them.

But then, like many people, you are willing to make a comment declaring my wrongness but uninterested in doing the work required to refute it.

I understand that refuting someone else's arguments takes time, which you expressed you don't want to invest, but that would make it presumptuous for you to call others to task for what you refuse to do.

You say you would have preferred no response, and I can understand that it's simpler to dole out your opinions and reject anyone else's, especially if you don't want to support your assertions.

Rajeev Said: "that's your assumption. The reality is that protracted arguments with strangers on the web over matters of taste... well, they're often fruitless and take up more time than I'm willing to invest."

Commenting and negating my opinion is disrespectful, even more so if you are doing it because it is 'not worth your time'. If these discussions are not worth your time, then don't start them.

I understand how it would be frustrating to hold such discussions when they often turn out fruitlessly, but then, the only constant between those discussions has been you. Perhaps if you spent more time reading Aristotle and less time suggesting him, you would have more profitable discussions.

Or you could throw stones at a house you find ugly and then tell the man who owns it not to throw stones back at you, because you don't like stones thrown at you, and furthermore, you haven't the time to receive them (though you'll give him pointers on how he might throw his better).

Please keep in mind, that wasn't a sarcastic statement, but an extended conceit. I assume your squiggly 'fin' is the sign that you'd like to move on to greener pastures. Please do, but next time you comment, you may want to be more clear about why you consider your responses to be worth another's time, but not vice versa, or someone may mistake your comment for a conceit of your own.

I also understand you feeling somewhat defensive, as I was unaware of the vehement (and often personal) attacks that have sprung up around this book since I first reviewed it.

message 11: by Blondy (new)

Blondy I definitely agree wiht your observations, but at the same time I feel like it's a good story if you're looking at it purely from the plot and events point of view. I feel like the author focused more on that and character development with certain characters such as Baba than the actual culture of Afghanistan and what's going on there. THe author himself was never very poor and probably doesn't know that aspect of things as well so shys away from it. I think the point of this novel more than anything might just be to pull the heart strings through the plot in order to hopefully have enough of an effect on some people to make them look into the problems of Afghanistan more. THe way I interpreted was the author's way of sayng don't forget about Afghanistan while at the same time he wanted to tell the story. I agree with most of your opinions above though, as they are very well based.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim Way off topic, but its been awhile since I contacted you, Keely.

I suspect I'm one of those un-worldly Americans. Stuck in Alaska, we Alaskans miss (rather, *this Alaskan* misses) much of the politically fashionable Outside, so for example, I'm completey unaware of "Native American pop fiction" in the 80s.

I've read two things that readily come to mind about the Middle East. The Source - by Michener - the last part of which recounts the defense of Israel in 1948. And, The Haj by Leon Uris.

The Haj was not a overt condemnation of Arab culture (or whatever the label is for the Palestinians, Syrians, Jordanians, et al) but left the following impression on me:

They resent Israeli industry - making a barren desert fertile after milennia of neglect. Whatever Palstinian industry remained was destroyed by UN Relief efforts. They are poor fighters and poor allies. Full of hate, but couldn't focus it enough to wipe out Israel. Inheritance traditions tend to make enemies of sons and fathers. The story ends with a bang when the protagonist kills his daughter when he discovers she's not a virgin (an "honor killing").

Some of this may well have come from Exodus - also by Uris.

In any case, did you read The Haj?

message 13: by Jim (new)


I checked a plot summary of Exodus - I'm now sure that I did not read that.

message 14: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely ". . . I'm completey unaware of "Native American pop fiction" in the 80s."

Took a class on it back in college. My professor was a Native author who found it frustrating that most of the well-known Native pop fiction were just thoroughly Western novels with a vague, generic sheen of difference.

"They resent Israeli industry - making a barren desert fertile after milennia of neglect. Whatever Palstinian industry remained was destroyed by UN Relief efforts. They are poor fighters and poor allies. Full of hate, but couldn't focus it enough to wipe out Israel."

Well, I'm certainly no expert on this very divisive issue, but it's my understanding that the Israelis have had international economic and military support from the First World powers that established their country, which is why they have the most advanced and well-equipped military in the world.

The other countries of the Middle East, while they may have strong cash flow thanks to oil, do not have very robust infrastructure, since most of the wealth is concentrated at the top. I understand it's hard to build a military force without either industry or a middle class of trained workers.

But no, I haven't read The Haj, though I do have a 1st edition of Exodus around here, somewhere (haven't read that yet, either).

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim "1st edition of Exodus"

You might be a book collector!

I recall enjoying The Haj quite a lot. It appears I'm not alone.

I suspect that the US gave away much war machinery early on but that Israel has been footing the bill since. Next to Turkey they have the only modern economy in the region.

message 16: by Isabella (new)


message 17: by J.G. Keely (new)



message 18: by Isabella (new)

Isabella Queirouz ok wikipedia resolves it, the greater middle east :)

message 19: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Well, the problem with that is that Guibert's 'The Photographer' (which I mention at the end of my review) actually is a story of Afghanistan from a Westerner's perspective, and it has much more insight into the region, the people, and the politics than this book, and it doesn't use one-sided allegories to do it. It's not merely that the point-of-view in the Kite Runner is Western, it's that it's so thoroughly Western that there's almost nothing to be learned from this book about Afghanistan or the complex political and social struggles that exist there.

message 20: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Well, if it is just a story of personal redemption, I suppose I didn't find that personal story to particularly well-written, either. The psychology tended to be fairly simplistic and the interpersonal conflicts which made up the story's plot did not seem to stem from irreconcilable psychological differences in developed characters, but from convenient misunderstandings that the author stretched out to fill space.

I also didn't find the redemptive progression very fulfilling because the main character was up against such a cartoonish villain. Overcoming a demented sociopath is not the plot of a complex personal story of growth, it's the plot of a horror or action movie.

A redemptive story is about overcoming the self, and since this was the story of a spoiled, wealthy kid who never really came to know or understand himself, there isn't much space for personal redemption.

message 21: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Certainly, a straightforward, personal style can be very effective, but only if the author has a strong enough sense of human psychology to make those internal conflicts compelling. I found the conflicts in this book fairly shallow and plot-convenient. They didn't develop as time went on, they were just the same conflict repeated over and over without revealing any new aspects, as I say in my review.

If you want me to reconsider this book, you'll have to come up with an argument or insight about it that I haven't considered yet. Telling me to 'take a deeper look and reconsider' is pointless, because you could say that about any book (and people often do). If it deserves a deeper look, then tell me why. Explain what deeper level it operates on and how the author creates that deep structure.

I admit it's going to take a pretty good argument to convince me to reconsider because when I think of this book, all I remember is a bit of fluff with little emotional depth. Another thing to consider if you want to convince me is that you'll have to deal with the arguments I put forth in my review, and either refute them or explain how my criticism doesn't take into account some aspect of the book.

Check out this article for some tips on how to write a persuasive argument, I always find it useful.

message 22: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely How can redemption possibly occur without understanding?

Greek scholar Edith Hamilton defined tragedy as 'something terrible befalling a person who has the utmost capacity to feel and comprehend it' (I paraphrase). Redemption relies on the same depth of feeling. A person cannot experience redemption without coming to some drastically new understanding about the world, and about themselves. Without that kind of new comprehension, the notion of 'redemption' is just a self-justifying delusion.

I would be interested to know what you think the redemptive event is, and what transformative insight is drawn from that event.

"The reason why I chose to truly like this book is because it feels like a truthful account of a person who has in truth never really faced the harsh realities of Afghanistan. . . would you not expect someone to be narrow-minded because they had a particular upbringing?"

Yes, but a narrow-minded truth really isn't truth at all. It is impossible to write a good book without self-awareness and self-deprication. If an author cannot look at their own flaws and write about them, then they are not writing a book about ignorance, but a book of ignorance.

This is not a book about a spoiled, narrow-minded person, because it does not explore the source or result of that narrow-mindedness. It merely resides in narrow-mindedness because the author is incapable of seeing the world in any other way.

This is not a sign of a skilled author, it is, in fact, a sign of a very unskilled author, who is not able to comprehend others enough to write complete characters. We might see some inadvertent insights into closed-mindedness, but this is despite the author, not because of him.

This book is only 'realistic' in the sense that the author is too guileless to actually write fiction. It is real because all he can write is himself and he doesn't have enough experience to step outside of that and create something profound.

In that sense, I suppose it might be interesting to see how the author naively and inadvertently reveals himself, but again, that is a sign of how unskilled he is, and how flawed his depiction of the story is. I could hardly rate a book highly if the only interesting thing about it is how the author is unable to write good fiction.

message 23: by Ahmed (last edited May 02, 2012 04:26PM) (new)

Ahmed Labib I think you are looking at the book from the wrong angle, or so it seems from your review which revolves almost entiely - in your opinion - around the book's incapaibility to capture or provide insight into the to the middle-eastern culture (which the author probably didn't even attempt to depict).
I see the story more as a tale of crime and redemption than one about the sociopolitical unrest in Afghanistan. The settings was, as is most often the case, the backdrop to the hero's journey to self-healing and personal redemption, rather than the catalyst for the main occurings in the novel. Let's say a pretty similar story could have been narrated and set in a western place (as an example). I think the book might come out better if you bring it to the expectation of that genre, than a semi-nonfiction-esque literary work.

I, however, do agree that Assef was rather one-dimensional; nevertheless, that in no way took anything away from Aamir's personal journey. He wasn't overcoming a demented sociopathic individual as much as overcoming his own demented sociopathic nature. In some way, the one-dimensionally-evil Assef was acting as his foil as was the one-dimensionally-good Hassan, representing both sides of his (Aamir's) personality.
The fact that he can be defeated physically in a fight with Assef but still win internally shows the real battle wasn't between him and Assef, nor was it a phsical battle.

As for providing a statement-by-statement refutation (with reference from the source material), I need to revisit the book before getting on with a more comprehensive dissection to your review. The same applies to you too. "The psychology tended to be fairly simplistic", "the interpersonal conflicts which made up the story's plot did not seem to stem from irreconcilable psychological differences in developed characters, but from convenient misunderstandings that the author stretched out to fill space", " this was the story of a spoiled, wealthy kid who never really came to know or understand himself", etc requires to be backed up by textual reference or something.

Edited to add, thanks for the interesting - even if slightly misjudged, in my opinion - review! :)

message 24: by Krishna (new)

Krishna What an unusual review. Thanks for it.

message 25: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Thanks, glad you liked it.

"I think you are looking at the book from the wrong angle"

Hey Bookworm, sorry I missed your comment earlier. Most of the comments you're quoting are from a conversation I had with an individual who deleted all their comments, so you're only getting half the story. For instance, the idea that the story was about a spoiled rich kid was presented by the other commentator, so there was no need to bring in textual support to defend it--it was already a given on both sides of the discussion.

It's unfortunate when comments get deleted like that because it can gut an otherwise interesting conversation that others might be interested in, but it's pretty common when people who get upset about books don't have much to say, they decide to 'take their ball and go home' when things aren't going their way.

Thanks for the comment.

message 26: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah, I got the same impression--that this was a pop capitalization on political talking points, reiterating what we've already heard without giving us anything new. People find that kind of bland confirmation satisfying, so it's not surprising that we keep seeing it. Glad you liked the review, thanks.

message 27: by Carl (new)

Carl Clearly some must fine the same bland confirmation satisfying. I think your enjoying review a little to much, how could you possibly even recall the narrative after such along time.

message 28: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah, a lot of people find bland confirmation satisfying. For people working a difficult job, who never achieved any of their dreams, and who have no creative or social outlets, bland confirmation might be the best thing in their life. But just because it is momentarily satisfying doesn't make it healthy, since the only thing bland confirmation can do is keep you running on the same treadmill.

As for the review, I wrote it a few days after I finished the book. I've edited it and changed it around since then, though.

message 29: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Thanks for the great review. Going to give this book a miss. I was a bit cautious of all the hype...smacked of the promos for The Help. Looks like this may be along the same lines. Again, thanks for an honest and informative review.

message 30: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah--I found it similar to the sort of oscar-bait movies (and the books they are based on) that exploit racial conflict for the sake of melodrama.

message 31: by Krishna (new)

Krishna Critical review of a hyped book often invites hostility.

message 32: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Very true.

message 33: by Humaira (new)

Humaira Beautiful! Very well written comment. Thank you!

message 34: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

message 35: by linny (new)

linny Keely wrote: "Well, the problem with that is that Guibert's 'The Photographer' (which I mention at the end of my review) actually is a story of Afghanistan from a Westerner's perspective, and it has much more in..."

yes, because a white person's insights on the middle east are far more valuable than an actual middle eastern person's.

message 36: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely As Said observed: it is not only Blacks who can write about Blacks, or Arabs about Arabs, or Europeans about Europeans--if we intend to comprehend one another, to come together, then it is necessary that we study and understand different ways. It is often difficult for a person to look out from within their own culture and see it for what it is, because growing up within it has blinded them to its irregularities, and it takes a lot of careful thought and study to reduce prejudice and see clearly.

In that sense, it can sometimes be very effective to see an outsider's view, though of course, they will be possessed of their own prejudices, and they will not be able to pierce the depth of a foreign culture, as the Theosophists proved in their poor and inaccurate translations of Sanskrit texts.

message 37: by Jim (new)

Jim It's unfortunate when comments get deleted ... but it's pretty common when people (get upset)... they decide to 'take their ball and go home'

It once happened that an adversary on an Amazon book review comment thread once edited his post to which I'd replied.

I'm fairly sure that it was not me "misrembering" (to use a Bush-ism). It was confirmed (to my mind) when I cautioned another to be sure to directly quote the miscreant lest he edit his own reply. The miscreant blustered "screw you"!

(Apparently "screw" is not on the Amazon profanity filter)

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim it takes a lot of careful thought and study to reduce prejudice and see clearly.

Today I read an article on Mad Men (a show with which I am probably too familiar) "Tomorrow Never Knows: Race and Anxiety in ‘Mad Men’" This article uses phrases such as "white, patriarchal lens" and "Such criticisms have especially plagued perceptions of the show’s (most recent season)".

My impression is that the writer has her own strong lens that distorts the show for her.

message 39: by Nermin (new)

Nermin "Perhaps the worst part about this book is how much it caters to the ignorance of White America. It will allow naive readers to feel better about themselves for feeling sympathy with the mid-east conflict, but is also lets them retain a sense of superiority over the Muslims for their 'backwards, classicist, warlike' ways. In short, it supports the condescending, parental view that many Americans already have about the rest of the world. And it does all this without revealing any understanding of the vast and vital economic concerns which make the greater mid-east so vitally important to the future of the world."

Wow, this is a truly wonderful review, Keely. And I'll be reading that book you recommended.

message 40: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Thank you for saying so, I hope you'll enjoy it.

message 41: by Caryn (new)

Caryn Keely: Once again, I take issue with your negativity. That map of the world was not a bad joke, it was a pretty great joke! Australia labeled 'Arkansas with a beach'? New Zealand labeled 'Hobbits'? Even 'Problem Solved' was a pretty spot-on sarcasm of how the west (or maybe USA in particular) views/(disregards) the world. My personal fave was middle America labeled 'Jesus and Meth'. It was 'Ouch, but so true'!

The rest of the review I agree with. In fact, I think a few months after I'd read this book, there was a magazine section article in the South China Morning Post about bacha bazi in Afghanistan, a terrible twisted, abusive practice, but apparently not uncommon, and kind of organized/institutional: an under-the-table known like protection rackets in the mafia.

I think pretty obscure in the West, at least at that time. I felt rather annoyed with Hosseini for not explaining ANYTHING about the pedophilia or even linking his cartoon villain to this practice. He makes no sense without the context of this practice, in this book written for middle-brow consumption, i do think it would be completely unknown, yet there is no attempt at explanation at all, rendering his villain far more unbelievable than he needed to be. A cheap/lazy cop-out, I thought.

I thought the most mind-blowing thing about the book, for me was his descriptions of life in Kabul before the wars started. I definitely did not know much of anything about the country, kind of assumed it was always a stone-age, backwards hell-hole, if I'd even thought of it at all and that prompted me to research more. That was chilling. To know they were pretty much like the west, certainly not backwards or stone aged. That's what a long war can do to a country. We are not immune to returning to the dark ages, losing all of our technology, all of our 'enlightenment' 'freedoms' and societal structure. Chilling.

Cheers, from Caryn in 'Slave-labor and cheap shit', (aka China)

message 42: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Caryn said: "Even 'Problem Solved' was a pretty spot-on sarcasm of how the west (or maybe USA in particular) views/(disregards) the world."

Except it wasn't a map of the world, it was just the Middle East--there was no context which suggested that this was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, or representative of a stereotype in need of being mocked. I mean, if I saw a drunk, slack-jawed yokel in a Confederate naval ensign hat and a shirt that says 'nuke Iran', my first assumption isn't that he's participating in an ironic send-up of prejudice.

"I felt rather annoyed with Hosseini for not explaining ANYTHING about the pedophilia"

Yeah, it was unfortunate that the book gave no context for the act.

"To know they were pretty much like the west, certainly not backwards or stone aged. That's what a long war can do to a country. We are not immune to returning to the dark ages, losing all of our technology, all of our 'enlightenment' 'freedoms' and societal structure. Chilling."

Well, the reason it happened that way in Afghanistan is because more powerful and influential economic forces, both First (and Second) World countries and multinational businesses have staked a claim on Afghanistan, pouring in cheap weapons and drugs, hiring and training mercenaries, ensuring that the only profitable crop for farmers is opium, and turning it into an unofficial staging-point for the cold war. It's hardly surprising that their society was unable to hold up under all of that, nor is it surprising that a new, open conflict is being waged there now that we have discovered that it is a treasure trove of rare earth metals, the newest exhaustible resource of economic expansion.

It's somewhat difficult to imagine America being meddled with in the same way, as it has much more power and political clout with which to defend itself. Then again, there is a shift away from the traditional power base of sovereign nations and toward the newer power base of independent multinational corporations, which have demonstrated that they are capable of using political lobbying and deliberate bubble speculation to establish their own power and influence, while at the same time placing the risk of those investments on consumers.

But we still have yet to answer the question of just how far this economic imbalance can be carried within a First World population.

message 43: by Caryn (new)

Caryn Well, that's a drag: You clearly saw a different map than I saw.

"Well, the reason it happened that way in Afghanistan is because..."

Yes, I know. I've since done some research on that too. Very True and enraging! The speed and the completeness or extent to which they were reduced to rubble was shocking to me. Additionally, of course the US has it's very own 'taliban-gelicals' waiting in the wings should the opportunity arise.

Perhaps it was very naive of me, but I'd never considered a whole country, a whole fairly advanced society could be pushed so far backwards or even completely destroyed. It is actually much easier than one thinks. Our 'civilization' is much more tenuous than I had ever thought possible.
"It's somewhat difficult to imagine America being meddled with in the same way, as it has much more power and political clout with which to defend itself."

No, probably not in the same way and not for the same reasons, But, Damn! Things change so quickly. Things we take for granted can so easily be 'taken away' or fall away from us. Technology changes, as you say, corporate and political power structures change, in a little over a decade the social temper of the US has flipped 180 degrees... - the people themselves have changed. (I see this most drastically as I live outside and only visit 'home', the US, once or twice a year). None of us is on a truly solid foundation. We have to keep WORKING on it.


message 44: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Lee Riley I may not agree with everything you have expounded upon in this review, however, I do agree with a couple of points and those made me laugh. The brevity of this review was refreshing.

message 45: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely I'm glad you got something out of it.

message 46: by Alishan (new)

Alishan I, recently, got my hands on this book, and will be starting it right after I'm done with Shutter Island. I've seen the movie, it was fine, but I really wanted to know what's so good about the book that I keep seeing or hearing about it every now and then.

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate what you have written in this review about the depiction of Muslim affairs. I am a Muslim, and when I see all the hate propaganda against my religion, it both grieves and aggravates me. I've read the other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, by this guy, and your statements apply to that book as well. I really liked the book, it was an exceptional story with little flaws here and there, but the portrayal of Muslims and Afghans made me shake my head.

I keep coming across people who hate/look down upon Muslims unconditionally, and educating them about the truth only pushes them further away. As a matter of fact, I was very glad to know about the success of Khaled Hosseini as I felt that a Muslim, finally, will be able to clear all the misconceptions - not only a Muslim, the fact that an Afghan was able to rise from the rubble was such a great news to hear, but then I came to know that he's been living in US/European countries since he was a kid. Then it just felt like he's just taking advantage of his heritage. Like you said, he just makes Westerners and anti-Muslim communities feel good about themselves for their loathsome opinion of Muslims.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is an incredible story, and I know the story of the Kite Runner as well because I've seen the movie, but he does need to get a better clue, and have more decent Muslim characters in his book. At one time, his characters look like Americans who are trapped with their imaginary Talibani and deviant Muslims. Let's hope he did so in his new book.

message 47: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely I hope so, too. It is very sad how ignorant many Westerners and Americans in particular are of the importance of Muslim culture to the history of the world, and to the history of Europe in particular.

It's also unfortunate how some Westerners will take the words and actions of a single Muslim--whether they are a political leader or an author--and then say that those words and actions are representative of all Muslims. People are too willing to read a book like Hosseini's and then say 'this is what Muslims are' or 'this is what Afghans are', when of course there is a great deal of history and depth there.

message 48: by S. (new)

S. Nathan The world runs on the backs of stereotypes and some writers don't realize the power that they hold in their written words. The story was indeed more a caricature of Muslims rather than how they actually are. I personally know many Muslims and am friends with their families and the like, most of whom are very devout people, which makes it easier to mark out the differences between what Hosseini has written and what is real. It struck me from the start at how strange Amir's character was, even as a child. He looks at his own beautiful Kabul with eyes that seem to belong to a stranger. If the writer had tried to write him as an Afghani instead of a Westerner, it might have changed the whole tale. But we ultimately read what we get on the page. I really did appreciate your review and your outlook on the book, coming from one who has experienced both cultures. I hope more people can see beyond the false stereotypes that books and other media offer them and I really hope that writers who deal with such topics can execute them with more delicacy than Hosseini has.

message 49: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Surya said: "It struck me from the start at how strange Amir's character was, even as a child. He looks at his own beautiful Kabul with eyes that seem to belong to a stranger."

Yes, it's true--I felt the same way. But then, after all, it's very difficult to write a child well. Authors remember that children are honest and impulsive, but often forget that they also find the world confusing, and make up their own strange stories in order to make sense of it. Instead, they tend to make the children into little honest, impulsive representations of the author's own philosophies, which does make them sound unlike children.

"I really did appreciate your review and your outlook on the book, coming from one who has experienced both cultures . . . I really hope that writers who deal with such topics can execute them with more delicacy than Hosseini has."

I'm glad that you found my views on the book to be appropriate, especially since you have more experience on the subject. I try to use my sense of humanity as a whole to judge such works--that though people often seem very different on the outside, they are not so different on the inside. I am glad my instinct was accurate in this case.

I also hope to see more books that deal with these topics of culture, faith, and conflicting viewpoints with more delicacy and insight than Hosseini. It is often our books that lead the way to new understanding, and a new understanding is something we very much need.

Thanks for your comment.

message 50: by Abhishek (new)

Abhishek Ghoshal The more closely I read your review,the more I realize ignorance is truly bliss. I actually loved the book. I didn't think about the cliched characters, the contrite plot ,or Hosseini's lack of insight into Afghan culture as it truly is,as you meticulously point out . I can't help but agree with all your conclusions and yet, I think I will continue to ignore all these flaws hitherto unknown to me. What does that make me? A fanboy? Damn,time for some introspection.

And without being overly critical, your opening lines " This is the sort of book White America..... " is a far too generalized and conclusive statement, no? [ I won't add racist just for political correctness as its obvious that wasn't your intention ] . What about people from the rest of the world to whom the ,ah,Westerner "lets feel great about us because Taliban muslims suck" psyche ( I might have ignored other points but this is he gist of it,yes) doesn't apply to? I'm from India and I also have a few friends who liked the book as much as I did. That rationale certainly isn't suitable for us.

All in all, a great review. I will need to research ( *cough* google *cough*) [ Is that even possible to research a wole culture without experiencing first hand?] these author's description of culture before blindly accepting it as given facts from now.. Thank you for the enlightenment.

P.S. - Have you considered writing? Your language is as eloquent as it is methodical in pointing out facts.

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