The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan, where his father worked as a diplomat and his mother as a teacher. When Hosseini was eleven the family moved to France, and later they were unable to return to Afghanistan because of the Soviet War. Hosseini’s family then applied for asylum in the United States, and they moved to California when Hosseini was fifteen. Hosseini went to medical school at the University of California and worked as a doctor for ten years, until the success of The Kite Runner allowed him to work full time as a writer. Much like Amir, Hosseini did not return to Afghanistan until he was 38 years old. The Kite Runner is his first and best-known novel, but his other works are A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed. Hosseini lives in California with his wife and two children.
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Historical Context of The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner progresses through much of the historical turmoil of contemporary Afghanistan, starting with King Zahir Shah, who was overthrown by his cousin Daoud Khan in 1973. The communist party then took power in 1978, which led to The Soviet War involving Russian forces and US-backed mujahideen guerillas. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the country became the Islamic State of Afghanistan, but violent infighting between parties continued. In 1996 the Taliban, an ultra-conservative Islamic group, took control of the country and began imposing a strict and violent religious rule. The Kite Runner ends soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center by al-Qaeda terrorists, the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the fall of the Taliban.
Other Books Related to The Kite Runner
As a child, Hosseini was greatly influenced by ancient Persian poets like Rumi and Hafez. West of Kabul, East of New York is another popular contemporary book (though non-fiction) about an experience emigrating from Afghanistan to America. Sixteen Days in Afghanistan is a documentary directed by Anwar Hajher that describes an Afghan man returning home after many years abroad to rediscover his country.
Key Facts about The Kite Runner
  • Full Title: The Kite Runner
  • When Written: 2001-2003
  • Where Written: Mountain View, California
  • When Published: 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary literature
  • Genre: Historical fiction, Drama
  • Setting: Kabul, Afghanistan, Pakistan (mostly Peshawar), and San Francisco Bay Area, California
  • Climax: Amir’s fight with Assef
  • Antagonist: Assef
  • Point of View: First person limited, from Amir’s point of view
Extra Credit for The Kite Runner

Kites. Hosseini was inspired to write a short story that would later become The Kite Runner when he heard that the Taliban had banned kites in Afghanistan. This seemed especially cruel and personal to him, as Hosseini, like Amir, grew up flying kites in Kabul.

Sohrab. Like Amir and Hassan, the young Hosseini’s favorite literary character was the tragic son Sohrab from the ancient Persian poem Shahnameh.