I had successfully managed to avoid Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner for a very long time. The book had been silently sitting in my personal library, waiting to be picked up. But Forsyth, Ludlum, Wallace, Archer, Narayan and the lot kept dominating my world. They still continue to do so, and I’m happier that way.
One of the main reasons that kept me away from The Kite Runner is the fact that it is a morose story. Now I’ve always had a problem with such stories. Sometimes in competitions only those stories win that pull the strings of your heart. Whether it’s on the international scene or otherwise, between a tremendously researched thriller and a heart-wrenching story, it’s the latter that always wins. I’ve always hated that trend. It’s the same when it comes to movies. A recently released Kannada movie is a huge hit. It’s a tragic story and it’s pathetic. My friend and I tore our own clothes, and by the time we came out of the theatre, we were looking like beggars. Anyway, let’s not get there.
I’m not complaining about The Kite Runner though. I liked it immensely, all right; but more because of the way of writing rather than the story itself. Surely there are moments that really squeeze your heart, moments that make you stop reading and introspect upon your own life, moments that teach you to take a severe beating instead of running away and feel guilty later on, which by the way is one of the biggest lessons that one should learn. Sooner the better.
All these things are explained, or to be specific, shown so beautifully that it makes the reader relate to the characters, easily. This is the part, which really fascinated me to the core. A perfect example for, “Show, don’t tell” – the golden rule of storytelling. The story drags a bit here and there, and sometimes it gets boring too. But what a superb way of storytelling! The characterization, the voice, the language, the narration – everything is top notch. Every sentence is fantastic. Every paragraph paints a heavenly picture of a hellish world. If I’m to read the book again or pick up his next novel, it will be because of these very reasons. The entire book is like a lesson in creative writing.
Khaled Hosseini is certainly one of the most powerful storytellers that there is now. Wonder why the so-called bestselling authors of India (read Rs. 95/- authors of India) can’t learn from Hosseini! Just like Hosseini, they too use first-person narrative. But all you will read about is the self-obsessed narrator/protagonist yelling at the top of his voice, “Me! Me! Me!” That’s the only thing that constantly rings in your ear. “Me! Me! Me!” It’s too forced, too loud, and too obvious. Can’t they learn from their 3 glorious mistakes? Or is it 4 already?
Robert Ludlum once said, “To me storytelling is first a craft. Then if you are lucky, it becomes an art form. But first it’s got to be a craft. You’ve got to have a beginning, middle and end.”
So if writing is indeed an art, then Khaled Hosseini is a terrific artist. May he write more and enthrall the world!