Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Quibble With The Kite Runner

Let me just say that Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner is the best novel I've read in ages, a reminder that, as Ross Douthat points out, "the place where the family novel still flourishes is in the literature of Asian and African diasporas, where characters always have at least one foot in a social world that's more restrictive, and thus more likely to generate the kind of personal dilemmas that dominated Victorian fiction" — Why Hyphenated-American Fiction Is Better.

(Not to worry: no spoilers. Mr. Hosseini, on page 357, reminds us "that, in America, you do not reveal the ending of a movie [or, be extension, a novel], and if you do you will be scorned and made to apologize profusely for having Spoiled the End." [Whereas, "[i]n Afghanistan, the ending was all that mattered."])

My quibble has to with a prominent and disgusting theme of the book, reported on by Kelly Vlahos — The Rape of the Afghan Boys. In the novel, a high-ranking Talib publicly indulges in that despicable sin. Ms. Vlahos reports, however, that Patrick Cockburn noted that "one reason Afghan villagers prefer to deal with the Taliban rather than the government security forces is that the latter have a habit of seizing their sons at checkpoints and sodomizing them" — Stealing Money, Selling Heroin and Raping Boys -- The Very Dark Side of the Afghan Occupation. Whatever differences I have with the Taliban, I cannot see how "boy-rape" could gel with their Islamic Fundamentalism, while it might well do so with our more "liberal" allies.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think this book appropriate for high school aged students? Just curious as I have not yet read this book.

Jennifer S

6:08 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I think it might be, for juniors or seniors. Child rape is one of the themes of the book, although, thank God, it's not explicit.

11:31 AM  

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