Drawing the Human Face of a Homeland: A Reading of Khaled Hosseini’s Novels; The Kite Runner, A thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed

Rim Souissi


Being the first Afghan-American writer who writes in English, Khaled Hosseini is a relatively new novelist whose literary reputation was established since his debut novel, The kite Runner (2003). His successive two novels; A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and And the Mountains Echoed (2013) have achieved the same worldwide recognition and success.

The common thread that links Hosseini’s novels – apart from them being set in and representative of Afghanistan’s multilayered society and complex history – is the fact that each character in these fictional works sets out on a journey that is determined and, to a large extent, linked to the country’s turbulent historical and social background. The itineraries that the characters follow intersect with and reveal a lot about the country’s social, political, and historical complex matrices. Though he hopes that his novels evince an authentic and truthful portrait of his homeland, Hosseini doesn’t claim to take on the mantle of “a teacher, a sociologist or an anthropologist” who can fully and adequately teach about Afghanistan, as he states in his interview with Fanney Kiefer. Nonetheless, his novels feature characters and stories that have a worldwide resonance thanks to their representational function of a long-overlooked and relegated country – Afghanistan. My contention is that Hosseini’s fiction penetrates the cultural boundaries that set a chasm between the East and the West. In other words, his novels are packed with elements of a culture so much foreign, yet nonetheless very familiar with its themes and characters. That’s what makes Hosseini’s works stand out in the so-called ethnic literature; his rendering of Afghanistan’s culture and history accessible to foreigners.  




Afghanistan, History, Culture, Ethnicity, Homeland, Individual journey, Identity

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