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Author: Khaled Hosseini
400 Pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade (27 April 2004)
ISBN: 978-1594480003
Price: US$9.00





There are some things which you thought you have long forgotten, but the when it comes back to haunt you, you’ll realize that the guilt never left. And if you truly believe in atonement, there is a way to be good again.

Like Ian McEwan’s novel which has been made into an Academy Award-nominated movie, Khaled Hosseini’s 2004 debut work narrates a heartbreaking story of love, guilt, fear and redemption. Amir, the son of a rich man in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s family servant, are seemingly best friends in 1970s Afghanistan. They spend carefree days flying kites and telling imaginative stories. One day, an appalling event changes both their lives forever. When Amir and his father move to America, Amir remains haunted by what happened. Eventually, he is brought back to his homeland under circumstances and made to face the consequences of what happened in the past. The only difference is: The land he used to call home is now under Taliban rule.

The story makes for great drama, and is definitely a captivating read. Written memorably chilling like an autobiography told from Amir’s point of view, the little quotes here and there will make you reflect on lives’ many regrets and laments. The only thing is, whether you have done anything about it? Such is the power of an affective and potent novel. The vivid and engaging storytelling makes this novel a must-read for all literary fans (although we’d think that it would not have flown past your radar if you were really an avid reader).

Already made into a movie directed by Marc Forster, the book has clinched several accolades, like the San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year and the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Award. The book also scores in its stunning portrayal of a globalizing world where geographical boundaries no longer signify separation and division.

You’d laugh at the idealistic first part of Amir and Hassan’s childhood days. You’d cry at the unfortunate incident that tears them apart. You’d feel bittersweet and sorrow at the second part of the novel. Most importantly, you’d see redemption from guilt in a different light.


“Baba stirred in his sleep. Kaka Homayoun grunted. A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore. But no one woke up and in the silence that followed, I understand the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it.

I thought about Hassan’s dream, the one about us swimming in the lake. There is no monster, he’d said, just water. Except he’d been wrong about that. There was a monster in the lake. It had grabbed Hassan by the ankles, dragged him to the murky bottom. I was that monster.”


A heartrending and poignant novel that is remarkably unforgettable.

Review by John Li


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