On the eve of his first novel's publication San Francisco writer Amir (Khalid Abdalla) is called back to the Middle East for a chance to make childhood wrongs right. An extended flashback set in late-'70s Kabul Afghanistan introduces young Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) the bookish son of a forceful respected businessman (Homayoun Ershadi) who despairs over his son's tendency to let his loyal friend/servant Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) fight his battles for him. On the fateful day of the citywide kite-fighting tournament Amir's inability to stand up to bullies has heartbreaking consequences for both him and Hassan. Soon after Amir and his father flee the invading communists eventually ending up in California. Time passes but Amir's guilt doesn't fade--so when a long-lost family friend offers him the chance to redeem himself he returns to the city of his birth to face many difficult truths. One of the best things The Kite Runner has going for it is its cast of virtual unknowns; since none of them are familiar faces to American audiences it's much easier to become wholly absorbed in their story. Abdalla is earnest and solemn as grown-up Amir. Both haunted by and determined to forget about his terrible betrayal he's often hesitant and unsure of himself (except when he meets the woman who will become his wife and courts her in a series of charming scenes). More charismatic is Ershadi who imbues Amir's father with the perfect mix of honor ferocity and sentiment. And top honors go to the boys who play young Amir and Hassan. Making their screen debut (along with co-star Elham Ehsas who's coldly menacing as bully Assef) Ebrahimi and Mahmidzada are natural genuine performers who make their characters' complicated friendship both believable and heart-wrenching. With a resume that includes the tragic (Monster's Ball) the sentimental (Finding Neverland) and the surreal (Stranger Than Fiction) it's clear that Marc Forster isn't wedded to any particular style or genre. Which is fitting since The Kite Runner is so many things at once: a coming-of-age story a sweet romance a gripping war drama. Forster does a good job of balancing the story's many needs staying faithful to Khaled Hosseini's novel while also streamlining it to keep things moving. As in the book the movie's glimpses of a (relatively) liberal prosperous '70s Afghanistan are particularly compelling; audiences who only think of the country in the context of the ultra-conservative Taliban rule (and subsequent U.S. occupation) will be entranced. Later when Amir returns home to find fear despair and dusty emptiness it's impossible not to mourn right along with him.
Second novel, A Thousand Splended Suns, publishedd
<p>Once a successful physician, Khaled Hosseini became the <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>The Kite Runner</i> and <i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>. Hosseini was born on March 4, 1965 in Kabul, Afghanistan. He described his upbringing as "privileged" and enjoyed the luxuries of growing up in the upper middle class of Kabul's thriving, cosmopolitan environment. His father worked as a diplomat for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so Hosseini and his family frequently moved during his childhood, to Iran in 1970 and Paris, France when Hosseini was just 11 years old. Due to his family's globetrotting, they did not experience the turmoil of the revolution that turned Afghanistan into a fundamentalist Muslim nation. His father was a moderate and sought political asylum in the United States where they made their home in San Jose, California. Incredibly studious and intelligent, Hosseini enrolled at Santa Clara University where he pursued a degree in biology in 1988. Afterwards, he followed the career of a physician, earning his M.D. in 1993 in the University of California's School of Medicine. Over the next ten years, after completing his residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Hosseini practiced medicine but kept his thoughts about his native country. In 1999, he heard the Taliban had banned kite flying, a fond childhood pastime during the brief years he spent in Afghanistan. He was motivated to write a short story, but eventually decided to expand it into a novel. In 2003, Hosseini released <i>The Kite Runner</i>, the story of a young boy, Amir, who struggled to develop an emotional connection with his father during Afghanistan's tumultuous shifts of power. The novel became a bestseller and was adopted into a film of the same name in 2007. Hosseini stopped practicing medicine to write his next novel, <i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>. His second literary effort was also set in Afghanistan and explored similar themes found in <i>The Kite Runner</i>, but principally centered around the inequality between men and women in fundamentalist Muslim culture. In the ensuing weeks after its release, <i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i> received overwhelming acclaim and became a number one <i>New York Times</i> bestseller for 15 weeks. Hosseini began devoting time to the UN Refugee Agency's efforts in Afghanistan, which took time away from developing his next novel. Finally, Hosseini released his third novel, <i>And the Mountains Echoed</i> in May 2013. Told from the perspectives of nine different characters, <i>And the Mountains Echoed</i> continued the familial themes of his previous two novels and became another bestseller for Hosseini.</p>
University of California
Santa Clara University
"There’s nothing easy about writing. It’s always difficult. It’s always a struggle. Every word on the pages of the book that you’re reading now was a struggle for me. Maybe it’s not the case for other writers, but it is for me. I’ve learned things about the craft of writing and about structuring a book and about character development and so on that I’ve just learned on the fly. But that hasn’t made the process of actually creating a character and creating the book any easier. You’re just as insecure, uncertain, and dreading the very real possibility that this will fall apart as you were the first time around." - from Entertainment Weekly, May 31, 2013