Amir and Hassan are inseparable twelve year olds boys. They live in Kabul, Afghanistan, and if I had been asked I would say the story is set in the fifteenth century. But no, the story begins in 1975 in a society that seems to have been frozen in the middle age. Children, through their social differences by racial roots, enjoy their friendship but most of all enjoy the most popular activity of children in Kabul: flying kites. Indeed Amir is doing his best to win the annual kite competition, while Hassan only complies with help. Unknowingly Amir is the brother of Hassan, but although the first attending school, the second is illiterate. Both live in the land of his father Babb, but Amir lives in his big house while Hassan lives in a shack behind the house of his father, along with other household employees. While Amir has every opportunity to come in life, Hassan is one of the servants, so he must comply with all the household chores before going out to play with Amir who waits patiently enjoying some fruit of the season to climb together what they call the mountain where they recorded in a tree "Amir and Hassan: Sultans of Kabul." The reason for this difference is that Hassan is a Hazara a lower class, the product of a Babb´s relationship with a beautiful Hazara girl at his service after becoming widowed of Amir´s mother.
The Hazara are descendants of the Mongols of Genghis Khan, the legendary warrior who settled in the thirteenth century the largest contiguous empire in history and stranded in small nomadic groups after the disappearance of the empire. The Hazaras are no longer nomads but they are discriminated by the Pashtuns who have controlled Afghanistan for centuries. Hazara are chiítias, Pashtuns are Sunni the same as the Taliban. By the way, when Taliban got the power in Afghanistan in 1996, they banned kites because, according to them, were contrary to the Qur'an and it is a waste of time. This gives a greater connotation to the title and the development of the book.
The Kite Runner is a story of human misery. Starting by Amir, that despite the great friendship with his brother Hassan, he is not able to help him when he was raped by a sadistic teenager named Assef. This, despite the fact that it was a revenge because he had helped Amir giving an accurate stone in the eye to Assef with his slingshot, when he intended to give a beating to his brother with a group of his cronies. Then, feeling ashamed of his conduct, Amir invents a theft by Hassan to force him to be expelled from the land of his father, just because you cannot see his face after his cowardice. Hassan leaves, against the will of Babb who insists to forgive him for an act he didn’t committed since Amir did not do anything about it.
He then refers to the time of the Taliban, those religious zealots who have nothing to yearn for the Christians of Torquemada, or the Catholic Christian priests of our time. Assef reappears here, the same sadistic pervert as one of the Taliban commanders, using their religion to kill women stoned and to rape orphans. Nothing to envy the current Catholic Christians involved in child sexual abuse and protected by their superiors.
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, is in exile in California since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. There he studied medicine. This is his first book.