Hosseini, Khaled

▪ 2008

born March 4, 1965, Kabul, Afg.

 In 2007 Khaled Hosseini published his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, which quickly topped American and British best-seller lists. His latest release did little, however, to dent the international popularity of his first novel, The Kite Runner; four years after its publication and for the second year running, it was in 2007 named the most popular book among British book clubs, and it continued to top best-seller lists in the U.S. In addition, a film adaptation was released that same year.

      Hosseini grew up in Kabul; his father was a diplomat and his mother a secondary-school teacher. In 1976 he and his parents moved to Paris, where his father worked at the Afghan embassy. With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, they found returning to their home impossible, and they moved to California, having been granted political asylum by the U.S. Hosseini attended Santa Clara University, where he studied biology, and in 1989 he began attending medical school at the University of California, San Diego. He entered private practice as an internist in 1996, three years after receiving his medical degree, but turned to writing full-time in 2004. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

      Hosseini began working in 2001 on The Kite Runner, writing at 4 AM before heading to his medical practice. The novel's narrator is Amir, a writer who lives in California in the present day but who grew up in the 1970s in Kabul, the privileged son of a wealthy family. Amir's story centres on his childhood friendship with Hassan, the son of a family servant, and its subsequent dissolution. The Kite Runner was praised in reviews for its vivid depictions of Afghanistan and for its powerful storytelling, but it won no major literary awards and was, at times, dismissed by critics for elements considered melodramatic. Nonetheless, the novel soon gained wide popularity through readers' word-of-mouth praise, and it was eventually published in more than three dozen countries.

      In 2003 Hosseini returned to Afghanistan for the first time since he moved to the U.S. It was during that trip that he found in the “women in burqas trailed by four, five or six children begging for money” the inspiration for his second novel. His curiosity about their inner lives provided the story line for A Thousand Splendid Suns. Set in Afghanistan, the novel traced the relationship between two women, Mariam and Laila, the first and second wives of Rasheed. Afghanistan itself also emerged as one of the novel's central characters. Hosseini found it impossible to separate the story of the novel's characters from Afghanistan's recent history, and he viewed his second novel as “more ambitious” than his first. Nonetheless, he characterized both novels as being ultimately the same: “love stories” in which “characters seek and are saved by love and human connection.”

J.E. Luebering

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▪ American author
born March 4, 1965, Kabul, Afghanistan
 
 Afghan-born American novelist who was known for his vivid depictions of Afghanistan, most notably in The Kite Runner (2003).

      Hosseini grew up in Kabul; his father was a diplomat and his mother a secondary-school teacher. In 1976 he and his parents moved to Paris, where his father worked at the Afghan embassy. With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, they found returning to their home impossible, and they moved to California, having been granted political asylum by the United States. Hosseini attended Santa Clara University, where he studied biology, and in 1989 he began attending medical school at the University of California, San Diego. He entered private practice as an internist in 1996, three years after receiving his medical degree.

      Hosseini began working in 2001 on The Kite Runner, writing at 4:00 AM before heading to his medical practice. The novel's narrator is Amir, a writer who lives in California in the present day but who grew up in the 1970s in Kabul, the privileged son of a wealthy family. Amir's story centres on his childhood friendship with Hassan, the son of a family servant, and its subsequent dissolution. The Kite Runner was praised for its powerful storytelling, but it was, at times, dismissed by critics for elements considered melodramatic. Nonetheless, the novel soon gained wide popularity through readers' word-of-mouth praise, and it was eventually published in more than three dozen countries; a film adaptation was released in 2007. Prompted by this success, Hosseini turned to writing full-time in 2004. The focus brought by the novel to the continuing Afghan refugee crisis led to his appointment as a goodwill envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2006.

      Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007), was inspired by his observations of women wearing burkas during a 2003 visit to Afghanistan, his first since childhood. Continuing in the overtly topical vein of The Kite Runner, the book depicts the radical shifts in the political and social climate of Afghanistan through the relationship between two women, Mariam and Laila, the first and second wives of an abusive husband.

J.E. Luebering
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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