The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

You would have heard of the movie for this one. It achieved some fame when the two Afghani child actors had to be smuggled out of Afghanistan for their own protection. Apparently, acting in a rape scene put their lives at risk. I haven't seen the movie, I'd be interested to hear what people thought of it.

This book is in two parts. The first part is a child's impression of living in a relatively stable and developed third-world, feudal country before the rest of the world decided to use that particular patch of ground as a World War-by-proxy. The first part continues with a story of poor outsiders attempting to make a new life in a very different world. This part of the novel is very, very good: it's a charming view into a destroyed world that we don't hear much about it, and certainly nothing good. Continued with a very real feeling tale of making the best of a potentially unpleasant world, and building a new life there.

My recommendation is to read this first part and then stop. I'll tell you what, send me your copy of the book, I'll remove the second part and then it back to you. Because the second part is just plain terrible.

The second part is a long sermon on how damaged Afghanistan is now. I don't have a problem with being told this. I do actually think us cozy, safe residents in front of our TVs need more confrontation of the destruction done on our behalf. And I'm not uncomfortable with placing blame: the entire first world and all the individual citizens therein, are responsible. But, oh my God! Is this ever preaching! Yes, Afghanistan is in a very bad state. We see that, we know that. The real effect and impression of the damage done comes not from preaching, but from the contrast of what we hear and see with what we read in the first part of this book. Beyond the preaching, there is also a monotonous tone and freaky coincidences to wear you.

My advice again, read the first part and then stop. Pretend the book is over. You'll enjoy it better that way, trust me.