where the writers are

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was first published in 2003, the height of the War on Terror, and the year the U.S. invaded Iraq (Osama bin Laden was already rendered irrelevant, the Taliban forced to flee in Afghanistan). I knew it was a huge hit, a big seller, and thought to be a big literary achievement. I did not buy it or pay much attention to it. I just figured it was a form of literay “affirmative action.” Because it was written by an Afghani about Afghanistan, it had to be sympathetic to the Muslim view, painting a pictiure of these poor Third World folk the Left thought we were colonizing. Surely it did not measure up to “real” literature like Joseph Conrad or Charles Dickens.


I was wrong.


I had a gift certificate. After filling my basket with my usual faire - political biographies, war history, sports – I figured, what the heck. It sat on my shelf for a while until I finally said, again, what the heck, and read it.


Great book.


It is not literary “affirmative action.” It is also not some Muslim sop about the poor Afghanis trembling at the feet of the American Empire. It in fact is more like a good reason for us to have gone into Afghanistan in the first place. Kosseini came from an upper middle class Kabul family, respected. His mother left and he was left with his stern father. He befriended the son of a family servant. The boy was raped by a sadistic neighbor boy. Hosseini’s character watched, afraid to come to his aid. This haunts the character and propels the book’s theme, which is about the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, and with it the wealth and influence of his father until they are forced out and move to America. It transforms itself to Hawyard, California, where the main character falls in love with an Afghani girl who has been ostracized for being too Westernized. Eventually the character must return to Kabul to fulfill a promise and gain some redemption for letting his friend be raped without intervening. He confronts the sadist, who is now a Taliban soldier who idolized Adolph Hitler (a big hero in the Muslim world, a fact the Western press hates to admit, which does not change the fact it simply is true).


Overall, I would almost call The Kite Runner conservative, certainly pro-American without being overt about it. It is by no means some kind of Left-wing clap-trapo, which explains why it sold well. Liberalism gets no ratings and sits unsold because when people see it they rehect it. I know I sure do!