Book Club: Kite Runner discussion thread

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I thought this was an incredible book, and I have to admit that it made me cry at the end. In style, it reminded me a little of Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club, of all things, with similar symbolism and themes of childhood, parent-child relationships, immigration, sorrow, redemption, and forgiveness. The book felt like a combination coming-of-age story, immigrant saga, and even thriller in places. The only wrong note on Hosseini's part, I felt, was the second slingshot scene, with an Assef so monstrous that he seemed like a comic book villain, and I thought some of the symbolism and plot events were a bit unbelievable and too neatly wrapped up. Although, I have to say, the blinding of Assef felt very satisfying. I'm also looking forward to watching the movie. I think it's coming out on DVD right about now.

    A few questions that come to mind for this thread:

    1. What were your personal reactions to the book?

    2. Who do you think was the true hero of the book, Amir or Hassan?

    3. What did you think of Baba's claim that the only true sin is theft?

    4. Do you think Hassan's son, Sohrab, will ever fully recover?

    Feel free to address any or all of the above (depending on your energy level!)


    [This Message was Edited on 03/25/2008]
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    but didn't get very far. No likee. Did the same thing w/ The Joy Luck Club. Gordon, on the other hand, read all of Amy Tan's books. But then, he's Chinese.

    Just started a mystery by Will Thomas called The Limehouse Text. It is set in Victorian England. "Limehouse" seems to be synonymous w/ Chinatown.

    What was Victorian England was the same time period as America's Old West. Indeed, John Wayne's last film was set in the year 1901. As noted in the film, that was the year Victoria died.

  3. springwater

    springwater Well-Known Member

    I havent read the book. My kid borrowed it and had to give it back before i could read it as well.

    Ive seen the movie on DVD tho. Obviously they cannot reproduce on film everything in the book and exactly the way its meant to be, but it is a damn good film for all that.

    1.I loved the film and Im sure most readers will find it satisfactory as well. It seems they chopped off some parts. Like Sohrabs attempted suicide.

    2. While Amir had longer screen time, obviously, its the noble hearted, son of the soil, Hassan whose character stays with you when the movie's ended. It helped that the boy who played the character was perfect for the part and has been widely acclaimed for his role. (Imdb Message Boards).(All the other castings for the movie are spot on).

    3. Babas claim. It was very complicated. I can think of a lot of heinous sins which have nothing to do with theft or maybe be related to theft in a roundabout way. But then we would give those sins other names, not simply theft.

    4. While kids have an amazing ability to recover from adversity, the stuff Sohrab went through is probably the kind which will stay with him throughout his life. Your parents get murdered, youre abducted from an orphanage by the Taliban who put bells on you and order you to dance and then use you as a sex slave. you kil your abductor and barely escape with your, its a tall order for a little boy to forget and put behind. Lol, me and my siblings didnt go through half that kind of thing and we are still impacted by what we did go through.

    God Bless

  4. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I loved this book - I read it a couple of months ago and was going to re-read it but my daughter passed it onto a friend.

    I think it was a great story, giving us an insight into a totally alien culture.

    I think Hassan was the true hero of the book. Amir couldn't help the way he felt because he was raised to think that Hassan was of a lower class but I think he was a coward not to support Hassan or even get help, like Molly said.

    However Amir did redeem himself by finding Hassan's son and bringing him to the states.

    'The only true sin is theft' - no I don't agree with that. I think bigotry and racism are greater sins and of course, murder. Bigotry and racism often lead to murder.

    Yes I like to think that Sohrab will recover, despite what he's been through he's now with his uncle, he's living in a free country and though I don't think he'll ever forget, he'll be able to put it in the past and have a good life.

    I've been reading a few 'foreign' books lately and its difficult to believe that some people have such terrible lives. I've never lived with blinkers on but I've come to realise lately how lucky we in the west are - despite our economic difficulties. Life is cheap in so much of the world.

    Looking forward to the movie too though we won't get it out in DVD for a few months yet.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/26/2008]
  5. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    We seem to be the only "Kiterunner" warriors this month! (With Dar soon to join us). Hope you're all having a good week. It's sunny and in the seventies here this week (would that be in the high 20's for you in Scotland, Rosie?

    What happens to all of the people that say they want to join book club, do you suppose? :)

    A question that comes to mind: what do you know about Afghanistan and that part of the world that you didn't know before?


  6. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    it was in the high twenties here but thats right Ken. I actually go by both systems as was used to the same as the states before they changed over. Can never remember whats Fahrenheit and whats Celsius.

    I have read a few books about Afghanistan - The Book Seller of Kabul (well worth a read, entertaining too) and saw a couple of documentaries about women - one western woman went underground and wore a burkha - don't remember name and don't know if it was shown in USA.

    However I always find how absolutely corrupt the Taliban are, morally and otherwise, an eyeopener - I remember seeing one short film where the poor girl was 'given away' to an ancient member of the Taliban to be his umpteenth wife.

    This was a beautiful country, Kabul was a glorious city and now its a pile of rubble.

    A Thousand Splendid Suns gives a great insight into the lives of women there.

    I better shut up, I'm on my high horse, sorry.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/28/2008]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/28/2008]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/28/2008]
  7. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    Did any of you think this book was autobiographical at all??

    I wonder how much was true and how much was a story.

  8. kellyann

    kellyann New Member

    Hi all,
    I almost passed on this book as I didn't think I'd be interested in it, and then I decided to go ahead and get it. And I am glad I did because I did very much enjoy reading it. And I am almost finished reading "A thousand splendid suns" too. It is just as good as the Kite Runner.

    I thought it was pitiful when Sohrab tried to commit suicide; because he thought Amir had broken his promise and was sending im back to an orphanage, where he would be abused all over again.
    I don't think Sohrab will ever be "normal" but he will be funtional, and lead a meaningful life.

    You can't really blame a child for not helping his friend when molested. He had to have been in shock himself and he beat himself up about it so much it was more than enough punishment.

  9. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Well, since you guys did say that we could just talk about books in general (or did I just imagine that, which is a very real possibility)--

    Speaking of Amy Tan, I'm in the middle of "Saving Fish From Drowning".

    It's really weird-- doesn't take place in the past, however. A group goes on a trip to Burma and gets captured. All told from the viewpoint of a ghost.

    Has anyone else read that one?

    Anyway, can I get a jump on the next selection?

    I didn't see a thread for April, yet--

    Okay, this is still not about the Kite Runner, sorry, but I thought of something that Rock mentioned about Limehouse.

    Does anyone remember the scene in Out of Africa, when R. Redford gives Karen Blixen the first line of a story she has to then extemporize?

    He says "A wandering Chinese, named Chang Wan, living in Limehouse, and a girl named Shirley."

    I never knew what he meant by "Limehouse"-- now I do, thanks!

    Karen replies, "Who spoke perfect Chinese, which she learned from her missionary parents..." and the men are impressed, and on she goes into the night.

    Anyway, I saw an old silent film a couple of years ago, called "Broken Blossoms" and realized that its plot is basically the story that Karen Blixen tells her guests.

    So the screen writer took the basic elements of the film-- a young Chinese missionary to England meets a poor young girl with a cruel father, and ends up dead at his hands-- reverses them a little, and is able to give Karen a perfectly enthralling tale, that none of us would have recognized.

    The ironic thing is, that the movie would have been around during their time. If these upperclass people ever went to a movie theater in Europe, they probably would have seen this, and her reputation for being able to make up a story on the spot would have been ruined.

    It's almost as if the screenwriter were bringing up the possibility that maybe Karen Blixen DID "cheat" a little in real life-- maybe not every story she spun was completely original or stream of conscious.

    I read a couple of biographies about her, and she was quite the trickster.

    Oh, well. Just a little ramble. Also, it's not the recent movie "Broken Flowers" with Bill Murray, which I have not seen. Also the original silent film is kind of strange-- can't really say that I recommend it.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/28/2008]
  10. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    Members are always welcome!!

    I loved this book!! I didn't think I was going to like it at all, but I loved it! It was hard for me to put down.

    Some parts were extremely sad and hard to read. Like when Hassan was murdered. And Sohrab being a slave was very hard to take. He was just a child!!

    I think they were both heroes, but Hassan was the better person for sure. I can understand that Amir was just a child and felt helpless to help his friend. But I sure wish he hadn't hidden the money and watch to look like Hassan stole it. He couldn't face him, so he wanted him to be gone.

    But he did accept his fiance even knowing her past which many Afgans would not have done, so he had redeeming qualities. And he did save Sohrab in the end.

    I have to think that Sohrab will recover, but not fully. I dont' know if that would be possible.

  11. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Isn't it amazing that no matter how beautiful a country is, corrupt people can always find a way to make the lives of its people a living hell?

    Afghanistan also has great food. After grad school, I worked in the kitchen of an restaurant in St. Paul run by Afghani immigrants for a while, making kabobs and rice dishes. The food there was fantastic.

    I was wondering about the author, too. I read that like Amir, Khaled Hosseini grew up in Kabul. His mother was a teacher, and his fater a diplomat. His family left Afghanistan for a poting in Paris in 1976, well before the Communicst coup and the Soviet invasion. They wanted to return, but the Soviets invaded in 1980, and his family sought asylum in the States. He and his father did work in a flea market in the rows of Afghans, some of whom he was related to. He now lives in California, where he works as a doctor. He is married and has two children. So I think the storyline is largely fictional, but it definitely has autobiographical elements.
    [This Message was Edited on 03/28/2008]
  12. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Kellyann: It is hard to blame Amir completely for not jumping in to defend Hassan. Didn't we all not protect friends at some point when we were kids, even if the situation was not as extreme as Hassan's? Assef and his friends would have done the same to Amir.

    Mollystwin: I liked your point about Amir's hiding the money and basically forcing Hassan and his father out of the house to be an almost bigger betrayal. And I agree with you that Amir completely redeems himself by the end. Wasn't this an incredible book?
  13. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I used to teach Joy Luck Club, and I read The Kitchen God's Wife. I liked both stories, and I love Amy Tan's style. The only thing I didn't like about both novels is that they engaged in quite a bit of male bashing. I challenge any reader to find a strong, but good male character in Joy Luck Club. Haven't read Saving Fish From Drowning or A Hundred Secret Senses. Did you know Amy Tan was stricken a few years back with Lyme disease?

    Your "ramble" was very interesting. I haven't seen Out of Africa in years, but never knew that the plot of Broken Blossoms was basically the same as Karen Blixen's story. Broken Blossoms was a D.W. Griffith film with Lillian Gish, wasn't it? I'm guessing 1915 or so? I've seen his racist film, Birth of a Nation and his other silent epic, Intolerance, but not Broken Blossoms. You could be right; perhaps there's a little barbed comment about Blixen's famous ability to make up stories orally. Thanks for sharing that. Jump in any time, even if you haven't read the book-of-the-month!
    [This Message was Edited on 03/30/2008]
  14. kellyann

    kellyann New Member

    I just finished reading "A thousand splendid suns" and it was so very sad! I cried. I think it was even sadder than "The kite runner" if that's possible. I won't go into details because some may have not read the book yet and I don't want to spoil it for them. But it made me cry and not many books do that to me anymore. The women's lives were so pitiful and sad. It is a shame that women can be treated so badly in this world.

  15. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Glad you enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns. I have checked it out from the library, but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

  16. Toga

    Toga Member

    I thought this was one of the best books I have ever read and I, too, thought I wouldn't like it. It was facinating.

    I think there was lots of symbolism that made it very thought-provoking. I agree that making Hassan appear to be a thief was Amir's way of getting him out of his sight. I think he thought if he didn't see him anymore he would forget his betrayal of his friend. But it didn't work, did it?

    The only way he could forgive himself was to suffer great pain in order to save Hassan's son.

    I definitely want to read his next novel. I think the Kite Runner was written about men and their perspective. I would like to read of the perspective of women in this country.

  17. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I liked what you said about Amir having to suffer pain anyway, despite thinking he could get away with having Hassan sent away.

    I'd be curious to know what you think of the other book, too!

  18. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I'm planning to wait until around the 20th of April to read PICNIC, too, because otherwise I'll forget all about it when the time comes to post the thread!

    So you liked The Virgin Suicides? Sounds pretty intense. I'm assuming the story begins with their suicides, then, and then pieces together their lives?
  19. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    I saw the Joy Luck Club movie with my husband, but didn't read the book. Now that I think back, you're right about the no good men thing.

    I also enjoyed The Kitchen God's Wife, which made me want to read more of her work. I think the main character's husband, who became the baptist minister was a good man, but that's it. Also, he seems like "the long dead and gone" good man.

    This man-bashing happens in Saving Fish... now that I think of it. Out of all the many white straight males in the book, not one of them is good, wise, or even likeable, except for one who expresses fatherly fear over his sick son.

    The only sympathetic male characters are one who's gay and hispanic, the oppressed villagers, and a Westernized tour guide. So, yeah, what's up with that? Maybe that is part of why I didn't find it to be so great, even though it is highly imaginative.

    You know, her "Rock Bottom Remainders" costume is a dominatrix, so obviously she has... shall we say... issues with men. Having just seen "the Good Earth" (read it in high school), I think those issues are understandable.

    I found out about Amy Tans' Lyme through a Physical Therapist who urged me to get tested, many years ago. I don't know my results, yet. But I should have listened.

    I didn't know that Rebecca Wells had Lyme, too. Wow.

    The actress Mary MacDonald (Dances with Wolves, Passionfish, etc.) is a spokesperson, but does she have Lyme herself?

    I saw the Virgin Suicides again, on film, but it must have been a better book.

    So, do we know what the next "official" book to discuss will be?

  20. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Lisette: Very interesting about Amy Tan's other books. I had forgotten about her dominatrix costume in the Rock Bottom Remainders! There's an interesting rant about The Joy Luck Club online called "Why the Joy Luck Club sucks." You might Google it, if you get a chance. Except it's more about Asian stereotypes, from an Asian point of view.

    I still like her books, and Amy Tan's life is pretty interesting, though. Her parents wanted her to be either a concert pianist or a neurosurgeon. She wanted a PhD in Linguistics. Her first major story in a writing class was the story about Waverly playing chess, which became a chapter in JOY LUCK CLUB.
    Hmm..I didn't know about Mary MacDonald being a spokesperson for Lyme.

    For our April book, we actually chose a classic play: PICNIC, by William Inge. I couldn't tell you a thing about it, though.

    Molly: Sounds cheery! Ha Ha. You're going to laugh, but I've been working my way through War and Peace, of all things, so I haven't been reading anything else.
    My dad and aunt challenged me to read it, and I thought the time was finally right.

    [This Message was Edited on 04/11/2008]