Afghanistan: Critical Notes
Afghanistan forms the background of both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini gives a poignant account of his country's troubled recent history and of the sufferings of the Afghan people. The reader also finds vivid descriptions of the way of life , the traditions and the natural scenery of Afghanistan , which betray the writer's
memories of his own childhood and present a country which is different from the negative image created by the tragedy of September 11. But there more than that. Hosseini 's novels are first and foremost studies of human nature. They are stories of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, suffering, love and self redemption. In a direct and clear prose style, he creates characters and situations which go straight to the heart, giving evidence of his superb instinct for storytelling.
The Kite Runner revolves around two boys, Amir and Hassan. Amir is the son of a wealthy and important man in Kabul , while Hassan is the son of a servant. They spend their days together, and one of their favorite games is flying kites. But their serenity is shattered when Hassan receives a brutal beating from a local bully, and Amir is incapable of defending his friend because of his cowardice. He will be haunted by his guilt , and only many years later will he find the courage to stand up for his old friend's son, thus expiating his former disloyalty.
And Mariam, who has never had anything from life and has always had to obey orders, in the end proves capable of an extreme act of self-sacrifice out of love of her new family. When the moment of execution arrives, a Taliban orders
her to kneel and look down , and "one more time, Mariam did as she was told". This compelling novel deals with the plight of woman in Afghanistan, and reveals the suffering that is often hidden under the burqa. Significantly, when Mariam is in prison , waiting for execution she remembers her unhappy mother's words: "Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam".