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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject—the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut.

Riverhead (Penguin Group); First Edition edition (June 2, 2003)

Read more . . .

“Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.
Mine was Baba.
His was Amir. My name.
Looking back on it now, I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975 and all that followed was already laid in those first words”

Book Club Party Ideas for The Kite Runner


I loved decorating and planning this book club party. First of all, I had an excuse to shop for exotic silk scarves, and Latika lanterns. Secondly, I discovered the exotic rhythms of Afghan folk music. Afghanistan is a country rich in culture, music, and where the ability to compose and recite poetry is highly lauded.

I also planned some fun which was inspired by the passage in The Kite Runner where Amir in recalling his own wedding and reminiscence about Hassan, wonders “if he too had married. And if so, whose face he had seen in the mirror under the veil? Whose henna-painted hands had he held?”

Mehndi, is the art of henna painting and it might be fun to adorn your guests’ hands with henna if you (or one of your guests) is the artsy type.  If you are planning on applying henna be aware that a henna tattoo will remain for a good 8-10 days and needs to dry for 30 minutes.


I chose folk songs, ghazals, in honor of Amir’s mother-in-law, Khala Jamila, who had a talent for singing the ghazalas and was once “famous in Kabul for her enchanting singing voice.” Ghazals are highly rhythmic.

Little Nomad Girl Afghanistan Rediscovered Treasures

Book Club Menu for The Kite Runner

I laid out a large cloth over my living room rug for my Afghan dinner spread, called a dastarkhan. The Afghan people are extremely hospitable and regardless of economic status, the creation of a proper dastarkhan is very important to the Afghan host.

Tea is an important part of Afghan culture and is enjoyed throughout the day, so have tea ready to offer as the guests arrive. I prepared a traditional Afghan tea.

Afghan black tea steeped in milk with a dash of cardamom. This tea is so fabulous!

Tea Cardamom Afghanistan

Afghani Cuisine is a blend of influences from the cuisines of the surrounding regions, most notably Iran and India. Most dishes are flavorful but not overly hot. The hot spices are most times added to accompaniments, such as chutney, for those who prefer their food hot.

The food I prepared for The Kite Runnerbook club party was inspired by the wedding feast of Amir and Soraya.

” . . . Colorful platters of chopan kabob (lamb kebobs),

Mushroom meat Kabobs

sholeh-goshti (braised lamb with mung beans and rice),

wild-orange rice . . . “

Orange flavored wild rice, persia

And, naan bread to scoop up the food. Be sure to prepare chutni gashneez (cilantro chutney) as an accompaniment to the meat dishes.

A traditional rich and flavorful firni milk custard topped with pistachio nuts for dessert.

Firni Milk Custard

Firni Milk Custard

Nosh-e- Jaan!

Book Club Resources for The Kite Runner

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 4.23 stars (1,628,264 ratings)
Amazon: 4.5 stars (5,339 ratings)
LibraryThing: 4.21 stars (12,872 ratings)
My Rating: 5 stars Superb!


  • It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read seemed bland. — Isabel Allende
  • Brilliant, startling plot twists make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives… It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality. — Publishers Weekly
  • Parts of The Kite Runner ar raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written. Hosseini clearly loves his country as much as he hates what has become of it. — The Washington Post Book World
  • It is not so much a story of Mideast politics . . . as it is a story of life in a beautiful country torn asunder. Through his characters and the plot, which is captivating and at times quite disturbing. Hosseini offers a lesson on his culture and the history of his beloved homeland. — San Antonio Express-News

Discussion Questions

Spoiler Alert: Discussion guide may contain spoilers to the book.

1. The novel begins with Amir’s memory of peering down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a tragedy. The novel ends with Amir kite running for Hassan’s son, Sohrab, as he begins a new life with Amir in America. Why do you think the author chooses to frame the novel with these scenes? Refer to the following passage: “Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end…crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis [nomads].” How is this significant to the framing of the novel?

2. The strong underlying force of this novel is the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss their friendship. Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan’s true friend? Why does Amir constantly test Hassan’s loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be Hassan’s friend?

3. Early in Amir and Hassan’s friendship, they often visit a pomegranate tree where they spend hours reading and playing. “One summer day, I used one of Ali’s kitchen knives to carve our names on it: ‘Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul.’ Those words made it formal: the tree was ours.” In a letter to Amir later in the story, Hassan mentions that “the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years.” Discuss the significance of this tree.

4. We begin to understand early in the novel that Amir is constantly vying for Baba’s attention and often feels like an outsider in his father’s life, as seen in the following passage: “He’d close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups time with him. I’d sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter.” Discuss Amir’s relationship with Baba.

5. After Amir wins the kite running tournament, his relationship with Baba undergoes significant change. However, while they form a bond of friendship, Amir is still unhappy. What causes this unhappiness and how has Baba contributed to Amir’s state of mind? Eventually, the relationship between the two returns to the way it was before the tournament, and Amir laments “we actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of tissue paper, glue, and bamboo could somehow close the chasm between us.” Discuss the significance of this passage.
Read more . . .

6. As Amir remembers an Afghan celebration in which a sheep must be sacrificed, he talks about seeing the sheep’s eyes moments before its death. “I don’t know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch, I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal’s eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose.” Why do you think Amir recalls this memory when he witnesses Hassan’s tragedy in the alleyway? Amir recollects the memory again toward the end of the novel when he sees Sohrab in the home of the Taliban. Discuss the image in the context of the novel.

7. America acts as a place for Amir to bury his memories and a place for Baba to mourn his. In America, there are “homes that made Baba’s house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a servant’s hut.” What is ironic about this statement? What is the function of irony in this novel?

8. What is the significance of the irony in the first story that Amir writes? After hearing Amir’s story, Hassan asks, “Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn’t he have just smelled an onion?” How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir’s life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character between Hassan and Amir?

9. Why is Baba disappointed by Amir’s decision to become a writer? During their argument about his career path, Amir thinks to himself: “I would stand my ground, I decided. I didn’t want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that, I had damned myself.” What has Amir sacrificed for Baba? How has Amir “damned himself”?

10. Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya and Amir and their fathers. How have their upbringings contributed to these relationships?

11. Discuss how the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in the novel.

12. On Amir’s trip back to Afghanistan, he stays at the home of his driver, Farid. Upon leaving he remarks: “Earlier that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fistful of crumpled money under the mattress.” Why is this moment so important in Amir’s journey?

13. Throughout the story, Baba worries because Amir never stands up for himself. When does this change?

14. Amir’s confrontation with Assef in Wazir Akar Khan marks an important turning point in the novel. Why does the author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way? What is this the significance of the scar that Amir develops as a result of the confrontation? Why is it important in Amir’s journey toward forgiveness and acceptance?

15. While in the hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a dream in which he sees his father wrestling a bear: “They role over a patch of grass, man and beast…they fall to the ground with a loud thud and Baba is sitting on the bear’s chest, his fingers digging in its snout. He looks up at me, and I see. He’s me. I am wrestling the bear.” Why is this dream so important at this point in the story? What does this dream finally help Amir realize?

16. Amir and Hassan have a favorite story. Does the story have the same meaning for both men? Why does Hassan name his son after one of the characters in the story?

17. Baba and Amir know that they are very different people. Often it disappoints both of them that Amir is not the son that Baba has hoped for. When Amir finds out that Baba has lied to him about Hassan, he realizes that “as it turned out, Baba and I were more alike than I’d never known.” How does this make Amir feel about his father? How is this both a negative and positive realization?

18. When Amir and Baba move to the States their relationship changes, and Amir begins to view his father as a more complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see the changes in Baba as tragic or positive?

19. Discuss the difference between Baba and Ali and between Amir and Hassan. Are Baba’s and Amir’s betrayals and similarities in their relationships of their servants (if you consider Baba’s act a betrayal) similar or different? Do you think that such betrayals are inevitable in the master/servant relationship, or do you feel that they are due to flaws in Baba’s and Amir’s characters, or are they the outcome of circumstances and characters?

(Discussion Questions from Riverhead Trade)


Amazing photographs from Afghanistan

Photo Credit: Rueters/Ahmad Masood

Photo Credit: Rueters/Ahmad Masood

Photo Credit: Rueters/Ahmad Masood

The Kite Runner at your favorite bookseller

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The Author and Awards

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1965. His father was a diplomat and while he and his family were living in Paris, the Soviet army took control of Afghanistan. The Hosseini family took asylum in the United States where Khaled Hosseini attended school, eventually graduating from medical school and becoming a practicing internist from 1996 to 2004. More information on Khaled Hosseini can be found on his website.

List of Awards forThe Kite Runner

  • Book Sense Bestseller List Sensation
  • Boeke Prize
  • Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
  • ALA Notable Book
  • Alex Award
  • Borders Original Voices Award 2003
  • Entertainment Weekly’s Best Book 2003
  • San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year 2003
  • Literature to Life Award

Other Works by Kahled Hosseini and Recommended Reading

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra

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Feel free to add your ideas, comments or book review below.

  1. so is the food used in the kite runner on no ?

    Comment by john

  2. The majority of the dishes are from the book. There are quotes from the book above the recipes.

    Comment by Lisa