Apr 1, 2009

The Kite Runner & Afghanistan

Sometimes I feel like I use my "five paragraph essay" voice when I talk about quote-endquote important issues, so forgive me.

Anyway, I'm about ninety percent done with Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and have an overarching feeling of dismay about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful novel, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

But the line between fiction that so often gives me comfort in and escape from the REAL WORLD has been shattered by this book, which details the life of a child who grows up in Afghanistan in the Seventies, moves to America, and then returns [for an important plot thread] after the country has been taken over by the Taliban.

So, anyway, that's the novel in a nutshell, and since I have painted the story with such a broad brush, please don't disregard the book based on such a silly little paragraph. There is too much to be explored plot-wise in the story, but the literal, surface meaning is not what I mean to talk about. The political undercurrent is, and it is that which interests me. It is so alive with the modern state of the country and pessimism about its future that I couldn't help but be fundamentally shaken by its implications.

When war is waged on a country, it is difficult for people to understand the daily struggles of those people and whether or not the beliefs of the everyman align with those who have (ostensibly) caused the war. In Afghanistan, the fundamental - again, no pun intended - question is: do most people in the country align themselves with the Taliban?

The answer, I would say, is a resounding NO. I can't extrapolate all of Afghanistan out by the comments of one book, of course, but I do think it is important to note that perspective can be derived from sympathetic texts. And, while I criticized escalation of forces in Iraq, I have to say that I agree with Mr. Obama in sending more troops to Afghanistan to help the country get under control.

Khaled Hosseini himself has something to say about the presence of the US:
But this much we do know: Without a genuine and sustained, long-term commitment on the part of the U.S. and its allies, Afghanistan is doomed. Though Afghans are an independent people and take pride in their sovereignty, polls have repeatedly shown that, despite growing skepticism and disillusionment, the majority of Afghans still view the foreign presence in their country favorably. They know that a weakened western resolve will mean that positive gains that have been made so painstakingly will vanish swiftly and the country will slide back.

So, if I haven't depressed you too much, I encourage you to give The Kite Runner a chance. It's a damn fine book, and one that may help you get something that almost never hurts: a perspective other than your own.


  1. That book is truly amazing. I wasn't sure whether or not I'd like it, but I devoured it. The movie's not bad. It's just nowhere near as compellingly told.

  2. Parts of it were hard to get through, and I wanted to put it down, give it a couple days' rest, but I couldn't.