The Kite Runner: The Afghan Tragedy Goes Unexplained

Khalid Hoseni’s book, now turned into a film has been a best seller. It is touching as a personal narrative and indeed quite well-written. However, the issue with the book and more so with the film is this redemption – the saviour complex – that subtly ties in with the political discourse on Afghanistan. That external forces need to save it and somehow repair its fissures and heal its wounds. What can be farther from the truth?

Found this engaging review – am quoting some passages here:

The vast majority of flattering reviews of the book and film have concentrated on the ‘common denominator’ theme of ‘redemption.’ Generally speaking, such an abstract consideration says next to nothing. When applied to history and international conflict, it is worse than that, because it leaves entirely out of account the actual motives of the various social participants. Did the US invade Afghanistan, for example, because of its need to ‘redeem’ itself for its past failures in the region or for definable reasons of geopolitical strategy?

The implication of Amir’s rescuing Sohrab is clearly that Afghanistan still needs rescuing by some external force, presumably the US. The depiction of Hassan is part and parcel of the general approach. In this vision of things, the mass of the Afghan population will always be helpless unless aided by a stratum of Afghan society that is allied with the foreign occupation.

The inadequacies of the book and film leave them open to being used for quite rotten purposes. At the end of the day, and perhaps even before that, movies like The Kite Runner and Charlie Wilson’s War are acceptable to those wishing to justify the present occupation of Afghanistan. So much so that the wife of the present president of the United States could declare at an official function in March 2006: “ I am especially thrilled to finally meet the author of The Kite Runner, Mr. Khaled Hosseini. President Bush and I both really, really enjoyed your book. And we recommend it. I recommended it today at a tea at the White House to some women who asked me what I was reading.”

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