You’ll Weep Your Way Through Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’.

“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.” 
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Title: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Amir flashes back to his well-off childhood, twenty-six years ago when he lived in 1970s Afghanistan with his father, Baba. They have two Hazara servants, Ali and his son Hassan. Despite the big difference in class the two boys are close and Amir’s father treats both Hassan and Ali as family.

Winter is an exciting time for the kite-fighting tournament but it’s on that day that Amir witnesses Hassan pinned with his pants down, being raped by Asseff, but doesn’t do anything to help. Unable to deal with his guilt and failure to defend the ever loyal Hassan, Amir instead gets rid of Hassan and Ali by framing the boy for theft.

Their lives are toppled over by politics in the country and they flee to California. The once affluent Baba now works at a gas station, which eventually affects his health. Amir’s life in the US includes graduation, marriage, losing his father and having to go back to see his father’s old best friend. It’s there that he discovers his actual relation with Hassan, and how Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban, leaving behind a son. Amir goes through a dangerous course to finding the boy. Eventually, he finds him kept as an object of amusement and sexual abuse by a man whose face he can never forget from that day when he saw it pinning down Hassen in that alley.

This handsomely written story is such a deep and emotional experience that reaches into our relationships with others and how those relationships affect who we are and who we become. Amir is a well-off child but despite all that affluence he is constantly starving for his father’s affection and wants to make him proud. From all that has happened in his childhood, the harsh changes in his life, loss and disappointments, to the shocking discoveries, the story is as intense and emotional for the reader as it is for the protagonist.

The Kite Runner just demonstrates a sad search for redemption that we can identify with. It also details the raw turmoil that befalls people when politics seep into their personal lives. Khaled Hosseini writes in a way that makes the story jump out of the pages and shake your core, rattle your emotions and leave in your tears.  His characters are so real, you love and hate some, and you forgive some while others you’d like to strangle. It’s an unforgettable story, original and brilliantly crafted.

García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold is all categories of enthralling.

Title: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Author: Gabriel García Márquez

Originally published: 1981

The morning after the festivities of Angela Vicario’s wedding, Santiago wakes with no idea that the bride’s brothers are on their way to kill him. On the same night of Angela’s wedding her husband Bayardo San Roman discovered that she was not a virgin and returned her home. When forced to reveal who violated her, Angela named Santiago Nasar. The brothers set off to kill him to avenge their sister’s honour.

This short and digestible book is written in fine journalistic investigative style.  The non-linear order adds to the mystery and page by page, you’re constantly wondering what happens next. It is quite interesting how even though the twin brothers make it known to people that they’re on their way to kill Santiago, most people do nothing to warn him. This highlights how far deep the belief in honour goes. But the tradition of honour is not the only notable theme in the story – there is also the powerlessness of women. We see this in how Angela has no choice but to marry Bayardo because he is wealthy, among other things, and also how he immediately returns her to her mother’s house who beats her for hours for bringing shame to the family.

“They’re perfect,” she was frequently heard to say. “Any man will be happy with them because they’ve been raised to suffer.” 

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold

If Chronicle of a Death Foretold is your first read by Márquez then it may as well open the invitation to explore more of his books. The 1982 Nobel Prize winner’s writing clearly makes a full commitment to the reader to leave them feeling satisfied. This book is captivating and pleasant, it leaves you satiated yet curious and hungry to discover more of his work. There is so much to devour in the story’s short time-frame. It is impressive how García Márquez managed to compress the heavy action into a few eight hours without leaving the reader cheated.

If you love mystery, crime fiction and just beautifully woven narration, you will enjoy this book.

Here are some of the places you can find it:

Check your local libraries, street vendors and second-hand stores too.