An Author: Khaled Hosseini

May 26, 2013

A short while ago I heard that Khaled Hosseini, the celebrated author of debut novel The Kite Runner, was to release a new book. Having had his second book on my shelf for a long while and on my list of 'to be read' for just as long, it was definitely a chance to get round to reading it- in preparation for his third book And The Mountains Echoed.

I find Khaled Hosseini's background very interesting in making his writing informed in a pretty unique way, so here is a little insight.

A little bit about the Author 

  • Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965.
  • Father: diplomat in the Afghan Foreign Ministry. Mother: Farsi and History teacher at a high school in Kabul.
  • Through the Father's work with the Foreign Ministry, the family is relocated to Paris, (1976.)
  • Unable to return to their war-torn homeland, the Hosseinis moved to San Jose, California in 1980 having successfully been granted asylum. 
  • Khaled Hosseini earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 from Santa Clara University.
  • The following year he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned a medical degree in 1993.
  • In March 2001, while practicing medicine, Hosseini began writing his first novel.
  • Named a Goodwill Envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency in 2006. 
  • Establishes The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit organisation providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan

A lot of us have read The Kite Runner, but it also seems that a lot are yet to read it, (my survey being all the people that asked what I was reading, my answer being 'Khaled Hosseini's new book, you know the author of the Kite Runner' and their answer being 'oh I've always meant to read the Kite Runner.' Despite his second book being another bestseller it seems that fewer are aware of A Thousand Splendid Suns, perhaps it hasn't made it onto the school curriculum, yet. So, to those who have read neither, here is a little summary and a taster of what to expect in his latest release.

The Kite Runner

This poignant story discusses themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and the pursuit of redemption. Amir born into wealth, Hassan born into poverty, as a Hazara and servant to Amir's father, make an unlikely friendship -one that is incredibly touching and seemingly unimpeachable. 
The story's backdrop, Afghanistan over a turbulent thirty year period, closely follows the closing years of the monarchy and the first years of the short-lived republic. The impact of the war pervades the entire story and the lives of the characters.
Having made two selfish, juvenile, in truth simply unexplainable and unjustifiable decisions, Amir loses contact with his best friend and sees him leave the home. As the Communist regime takes over, Amir moves, with his father, to U.S. After a period that sees Amir find a wife, he finally returns to Taliban-occupied Afghanistan, on receiving a letter from his father's ex-employee. Long-overdue, he searches for redemption, but will it be too late?
A truly heartbreaking novel evocatively expressing the strength of friendship and love.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Similarly, A Thousand Splendid Suns spans thirty years of Afghan history. The volatile events in Kabul are no less dramatic in being recycled, for the characters aren't safely exiled, but rather live through all the devastation. The novel explores shame, friendship, domestic violence, unforeseen love, and the infinite bond with one's homeland.
It tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, 'brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate.' In the terror and violence surrounding their mutual home and inextricably entwined with it, the love that these women develop knows no limits. In a shocking, heroic, yet morally questionable turn of events, Mariam is compelled to save her friend and family.
Mariam's journey from self-sacrifice to self-knowledge means that despite her fate, despite her harrowing story, she will remain in the hearts of her loved ones, in those of a following generation, and in the hearts of anyone who reads her story.
The story is haunting and terrifying, but equally Hosseini instills in us a faith in humanity that had seemed far from achievable given the betrayal, selfishness, violence, and misogyny throughout. Ultimately, the strength of love permeates, overwhelms and overcomes all obstacles in its way.

The wonderful aspect of these novels, amidst the compelling characters and their poignant relationships of love and loyalty, is the context of Afghanistan. You can't help but learn about the history of the country from a unique and empathy-inducing perspective. Hosseini has the skill of producing suspense throughout, absorbing you in the story, yet always reserving that ability to shock. Both novels are satisfyingly tied up with redemptive or retributive endings. Despite the plethora of families, periods of time, and relationships that for much of the novel remain loose and potentially disparate, Hosseini reveals his unifying meaning in a carefully constructed ending.

Check out my following post for a review of Hosseini's newest novel And The Mountains Echoed.

Biographical info sourced from
Image sources: 1 Credit: Elena Seibert, 2, 3

1 comment:

  1. He is just a magnificent author. I think one of the best in modern times.