I've always loved books. In the past I was a voracious bookworm, albeit a choosy one, but now as I laughingly explain to anyone who cares to listen, ever since I got high-tech I haven't had much time for books anymore. Any spare moment and I'm either at my computer or tweaking my cellphone. But once in a while I do still read a good book and I count myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to lay hands earlier this year on Memoirs of a Geisha which was a fabulous eye-opening read, and just a couple of days ago, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner.
I'd read the review of Runner some time ago but it hadn't really prepared me for the absorbing quality of the book. And the ambience helped some because I began reading it amid the dirt and gravel of the local cemetery where I was keeping an eye on the workers repairing my parents' gravesites. It turned out to be fascinating... and part of its' fascination lies in the fact that it's about a country that I've never really had much interest in. Sure I'd heard about the "forgotten war", of the inhumanly repressive Taliban regime, of the US playing Big Brother and ousting the black ones in the aftermath of 9/11... all the stuff that comes on the BBC and CNN. But The Kite Runner brings all that to life and in a neatly worked out plot whose careful construction reminds me of one of my favourite contemporary writers, Amitav Ghosh (if you haven't read his The Shadow Lines yet, do it pronto). Also, both Memoirs and Runner are about cultures other than the usual American/western which don't really have anything new much to offer anymore. Kudos to Mr Hosseini for this brilliant piece of writing.