Runners Who Read

Who knew? A bunch of runners who enjoy reading and discussing what they read.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Kite Strings (No Spoilers)

I finished reading Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner the other day. It was a good read. I’m not going to get into any storyline specifics, in deference to those still reading, but I will mention two strings of thought this book elicited from me: insights into the Muslim world…and the war refugee/immigrant experience.

This is a timely book. I’ll confess that I never really understood life in Afghanistan, nor what happened there. Hosseini paints quite a picture. I never understood the Taliban. Now I see them as power-hungry ideologues/criminals…eerily reminiscent of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. I didn’t understand the dynamics and animosities between the Pushtun/Master/Sunni’s and the Hazara/Servant/Shi’a minority. I’ll confess that I was clinging to a few wisps of hope that Iraq may…somehow…embrace democracy, and bypass Afghanistan's suffering. After reading this, I can’t see how. The Muslim world both fascinates and horrifies me. I find much in their culture to admire…but, Jeezapete, they scare me! The barbarity of war fuels the barbarity in people, and our troops are standing right in the middle of bitter hatreds that go back centuries. Damn.

Then there’s this war refugee/immigrant fixation of mine that’s been growing. By coincidence, I read Kite Runner right after Middlesex. Both books describe the war refugee/immigrant experience. To that, I’ll add my own. I am the child of war refugees and I am, myself, an immigrant. What I came to see were the similarities and commonalities of our individual experiences. It really doesn’t matter what your culture, religion or roots of origin are…refugees/immigrants have a tough life. To be sure, some immigrants flourish and prosper early (it’s the American Dream, after all). Still, most don’t. Most suffer the humiliations, torments and frustrations of every refugee in history. I grew up in that world. I saw that world again in Middlesex, and once again in Kite Runner. These books dredged up a lot of memories – good and bad. Refugees suffer in a thousand ways. Is it any wonder that practically all of my close friends are children of alcoholics (refugees/immigrants)? We’ve seen suffering. We’ve experienced some of it ourselves.


Blogger Michele said...

Middlesex was certainly an interesting read, and it left me wondering how the author could delve so well into the mind of the main character. He seemed to really feel what they were experiencing, yet I have read somewhere that suppsoedly he had no knowledge or encounter with anyone like the character. Hard to believe. The history of Detroit was certainly fasinating as well, and when I ran the marathon there - I actually saw some of the areas he spoke of.

No comments on Kite Runner yet, but I agree with your assessment. And there is sooooo much more that we can bring to the table.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

You read a lot for an engineer, Michele. I've worked with a whole lot of engineers over the course of my career, and not all that many were avid fiction readers. I find that interesting. I'm quirky that way.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I didn't know that about the author of Middlesex. I agree with you. I'm impressed.

The most riveting part of the book, for me, came early. Life in Greece leading to life in the US. It was gut-wrenching. I do recommend this book for everyone. It's quite a story.

4:50 PM  
Blogger bct said...

I loved the Detroit portion of the book--it's almost like Detroit itself was one of the main characters.

I'm confused,Jon: are you saying that refugees are likely to become alcoholics, or that alcoholics are, in a sense, refugees?

2:23 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Bernice, I meant that a great many refugees succumb to alcoholism. I grew up in a Lithuanian "ghetto." Main street consisted of tavern after tavern after tavern. Thus, many (most) of my friends were children of alcoholics. There is so much despair/depression within a refugee population.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Irish immigrants also come to mind.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

And is it true, 1L, that the Keane Clan was one of the most notorious of the reprobate clans? Just askin'...

4:47 PM  
Blogger michele said...

Don't know Jonas - 'tis my husband's clan, not mine.

12:53 PM  

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