Before I read The Kite Runner I (shamefully?) knew nothing of Afghanistan. I knew about 9/11. I knew there was The Taliban. I knew about The War on Terror.
I didn't know that it snows in the winter. I didn't know that there had been a war there in the '70s. I didn't know that many Afghan refugees fled to the West as a result of that war, before The Taliban ever graced our news bulletins.
I didn't know that Kite Running was a thing. I didn't know you could compete with kites like a sport, and that the glass string was sharp enough to cut your skin, and that you were meant to cut other kits out of the sky. My experiences of kite flying stem from the finale of Mary Poppins and my own feeble attempts on windy days at Camber Sands.
But The Kite Runner changed all that.
And that's the mark of an amazing book. A story that teaches you something. And after reading The Kite Runner I feel I've learnt a lot.
Khaled Hosseini has a knack for story telling that is rarely found in modern literature. And he manages to do it cross culturally in a way that educates you on that foreign culture, its history, its beauty and its flaws, all the while keeping it relatable and somehow, not foreign.
We follow the life of Amir from his childhood in Afghanistan, his own journey to the US as a refugee and then his journey back to Afghanistan in search of redemption, answers and healing - when he gets there he realises he will be going back to the US with so much more than he bargained for.
It really is a deeply moving tale filled with moments of deep joy, swiftly followed by moments of deepest despair and tragedy. But in the end, there is hope. Hope for redemption, resolution, happiness and peace - if not in Afghanistan itself, then it the hearts of its people, wherever they might reside.
Available on Amazon and all good bookshops.