How soon my views can be challenged? While reviewing Cuckold, I had argued in favour of a great story ahead of complex literary techniques. Many believe the The Kite Runner has a great story to tell and a moving story. Yes, the story is interesting and at times, moving. Yes, the book has enough to be a pageturner. But something is missing.
By no stretch of imagination can Kite Runner be classified as a great or even a good piece of literature. At best, it is an interesting story with impeccable timing of publishing, when the world, and Americans in particular, wanted to know more about Afghanistan. A few years earlier or a few years later, the Khaled Hosseini could have struggled to find a publisher and even if he did, the book would have got nowhere closer to the best sellers list.
The novel is written, clearly with the Western audience in mind. As a result, there is over-elaboration of events and words when not required and over-simplification of issues. If one wants to understand the thread of the Afghan society and the reasons for the rise of fundamentalist Taliban, this book doesn’t offer any answers. Super-imposing the school-bully-sociopath character of Aseef on Taliban is a shortcut the author should have avoided taking – this is straight out of mainstream cinema. Schindler’s List also had such a character but the depiction was with much more clarity – it came out quite certainly that a socio-path uses the cover of a fundamentalist racist regime to unleash his inner evil. But I think there is much more to religious fundamentalism than just the whims of a socio-path.
However most Americans might love such a depiction of Taliban – an organization consisting of cruel socio-paths and paedophiles, who supervise footballers running around in full trousers. This explains why the book was a major success. Nobody is interested to know why religious fundamentalism arose, how the common man, whithout whose support this cannot happen, is drawn towards the fundamentalist. Definitely the author is not interested into getting into deeper layers of the psyche of a fundamentalist society.
Kite Runner succeeds in exploring the impact and fallout of personal guilt. Otherwise, there are no pretensions of creating a piece of literature. Maybe, the book has been more than successful in achieving what it set out to achieve – it had just fallen into the hands of a wrong reader to elicit such scathing criticism.