Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Kite Runner

Maybe I should have read this one before A Thousand Splendid Suns. Because it didn't really live up to the expectations I had in mind after reading that one. Almost everyone I know tells me that A Thousand Splendid Suns was good, but not half as good as The Kite Runner. My opinion is in the exact opposite direction. Bhatti did mention that a woman would be more likely to appreciate A Thousand Splendid Suns, but even my female friends have enjoyed the other one more.

Both books are set against more or less the same backdrop, that of war-ravaged Afghanistan. They span the same periods of time. Both begin with a peaceful way of life, and then move on to loss, tragedy, and eventually, building a new, wholesome life after picking up the pieces of everything that was left. But I found that The Kite Runner seemed to deal with all of this in a way that I was not able to feel the adversity, the agony, the anguish of it all half as strongly as with the other book. The book is written in a very natural style, with clarity, realism, accuracy. There are a lot of things that I did like about it. The style, the little metaphors, the story line, the graphic description of every scene... but it does leave something to be asked for when dealing with emotions, the happy ones and the sad ones. Maybe the order in which one reads Khaled Hosseini's two works has a role to play here. Maybe the expectations had been built up too much. Maybe both. But I would pass this one off as just a little better than average.


actinium said...

I felt TKR tells you the story of a guy's guilt and redemption and how he is affected by what happens in Afghanistan; whereas ATSS tells you about hardship of womenfolk, and how they live through what happens in Afghanistan. In TKR, Afghanistan was much like a prop, which aided redemption of Amir. In ATSS, Afghanistan was one of the protagonists. Alongwith Laila and Mariam, Afghanistan was feeling the hardships.
Depending on how well you could associate with protagonist(s) of either of the books, you would like one or the other, irrespective of the order you read them in.

Bhavya said...

You're quite right, actinium, but what I was trying to say was that Afghanistan had a similar role to play in both the stories in the sense that it caused the protagonist's life to fall to pieces and then the story moved on to piecing it back together again. In both cases, there were other factors as well, like Nana's suicide in ATSS and the encounter with Assef in TKR, but the war was a significant factor in both the cases. The hardships faced by the characters were of very different kinds, based on whether or not they chose to stay on in Afghanistan or not, but there were hardships all the same.

And yes, it's probably a question of being able to associate with the characters. Although not necessarily like Bhatti said, "mahilaaon to ATSS zyaada pasand aayegi"

cornucopia_of_gobbledygook said...

I'l add to this discussion in a few days... bought the book yesterday evening!!!