Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It's not often that I like a movie more than I liked the book. But I actually enjoyed the flim version of The Kite Runner more than I liked the book. I didn't expect to - not in the least. I thought the book would be a more detailed story that delves into the characters, their backgrounds, the history of Afghanistan, while maintaining the interesting, gripping story of redemption and compassion I admired in the film. It did flesh out the characters more, and you definitely get more of the motivations of the usually pathetic main character. The whole sweeping story is there, from Kabul to California, back to Kabul and then Redemptive Adoption With Kites.
The movie relied on the amazingly realistic performances of the Afghni child actors, who, Google tells me, aren't exactly movie stars back in Afghanistan. The book relies on Hosseini's prose, which I found lacking enough to get in the way of the story he wanted to tell. I also found it hard to root for Amir. I know you're not supposed to like him in the beginning, and the revelation about his family is supposed to make you understand his horrible arrogant and insecure behavior as a child, but I found it hard to root for him as an adult as well. And it wasn't just the phrasing that grated at times - some of the plot developments, especially later in the novel, just seemed too predictable (even ones that I didn't know about from the movie). Additionally, you get the feeling that this story is what Hosseini wished had happened to him - his father really escaped Afghanistan as a rich emigre to Iran, and then escaped the Iranian Revolution to Paris, and then to America, where they were well off and his son became a doctor - who then wrote a book. I get the feeling that this book was written to assauge the guilt that bubbled up after emigrating from Afghanistan due to his high standing.
I think I would have found this more compelling if this were nonfiction - if the writer had actually gone through it all and saw all of the horrors firsthand. Still I valued the glimpse of what has happened to Afghanistan since the 70s enough to enjoy the read.