Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then Afghanistan had already witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet army. The Hosseini’s sought and were granted political asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, Hosseini’s family moved to San Jose, California. Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California-San Diego’s School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Hosseini was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.
While in medical practice, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, in March of 2001. In 2003, The Kite Runner, was published and has since become an international bestseller, published in 48 countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in May of 2007. Currently, A Thousand Splendid Suns is published in 40 countries. Khaled has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through The Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for The Khaled Hosseini Foundation was inspired by a trip to Afghanistan Khaled made in 2007 with the UNHCR. He lives in northern California.
The Kite Runner
A powerful first novel by Hosseini. That was my first sentence for reviewing this novel. A strong relationship between Amir and Hassan in a different background. Amir, a Pashtun boy, son of a rich business man in Kabul who Amir affectionately refers to Baba. Hassan is a son of a Hazara named Ali, who also a servant of Amir’s father. they have been friends since they were toddlers, even the first word spoken by Hassan was “Amir”, while Amir’s first words was “Baba”. Their friendship is not common, Amir couldn’t fully acknowledge Hassan as his friend although they always spent time together almost in a whole day. But, he never even ask Hassan to join while children of his father’s friend visit his house and play with him. In the other hand, another part of his heart couldn’t say that Hassan was just his servant. Otherwise, Hassan think that Amir is more than just a friend, he loves Amir like his brother, and his love is unconditionally. He followed Amir anywhere, and did whatever Amir asked him to do.
Until one day, Amir made a horrible mistake to Hassan. Then they two were separated. Hassan and Ali moved out from Amir’s house, Afghanistan in war, then Amir and his Baba moved out to United State. Those two boys were never met again, until one day, Rahim Khan, best friend of Amir’s father, called Amir to make a redemption of what he had done to Hassan in more than 20 years later.
The most important thing in this novel is how Hosseini told us about Amir’s life, mixed it with Afghan culture, and how chaotic Afghanistan in wartime, both now occupied by the Soviets until the Taliban. Then he also describe a whole different world between when Amir still in Afghanistan, where is father is a well-known rich man, and how hard they had to struggle in a whole new world, United State. He definitely made it! Brilliant and very touching!
A Thousand Splendid Suns
This second novel reinforce Hosseini as a writer that can not be underestimated. A story about Mariam, daughter of Nana, a servant of Jalil – a rich business man in Herat-. Mariam is biologically daughter of Jalil, but he never married Nana. When Nana got pregnant, Jalil moved her to a small village and built a kolba (hut) for them. Mariam spent her childhood there with Nana, and Jalil periodically visit her once in a week. Nana always convince Mariam that she will never really be loved by others because she was an illegitimate child. But in the other hand, Jalil shows a sweet and kind love to his daughter. Nana was very possessive to her daughter, she even told to Mariam that she would die if Mariam left her. But one day, when Jalil didn’t show to visit Mariam, she left her house, accross the river to search Jalil, leave her village for the first time. And when she returned home, she saw her mother hanged herself, died!
From this point, her life is become more and more in tortures. She married to a shoemaker named Rasheed and moved to Kabul when she just in age 15. They seemed have a peaceful marriage, but when Mariam was always failed to raise a baby in her belly, Rasheed started to become a harsh husband. Afghanistan was also changed, that country has fallen to Soviet and provoke its people with communism ideology, until the Mujahidin succeeded to drive out Soviet. But, there were another war between tribes in Mujahidin, they’re fight for who has to be a leader in Afghanistan. In this chaotic situation, there was another story about Laila, an orphan from Mariam and Rasheed’s neighborhood, who her parents died by a bomb which fallen to her house, one day when that family agreed to move from Afghanistan. Rasheed married that 14 years old girl because he wanted to have a children that Mariam couldn’t give.
Another anarchy came when Taliban was took Afghanistan from Mujahidin. At the first time, people thought that it was a good news, but their life is become more and more difficult, especially for woman. Mariam and Laila’s life is also affected by Taliban’s rules. They have to face many bad realities, in their own family, and also the pressure from Taliban. Buried love, resignation, and suffer is a powerful combination to thrill readers. Hosseini is a very smart writer, once again I give a great respect for his powerful novel which more than a roman, but also about history of a middle-east country.
PS. The book covers are referenced from Qanita (Gold Edition) a private Indonesia publisher of those books.