Kabul-born novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, is known for his evocative storytelling deeply rooted in Afghanistan’s history and culture. Like so many of us, he watched Afghanistan fall to the Taliban with profound sadness. In the wake of these events, Penguin Random House has updated the educator’s guides for Hosseini’s novels.
When asked by the New York Times in a recent interview what people should be reading to better understand Afghanistan and the Afghan people right now, Hosseini responded:
“They should be reading history books. They should be reading people who really know Afghanistan and know it well. A lot of people have relied on my books to kind of get a view into what Afghanistan is, and that’s fine, but I have never intended for my books to be representative of what Afghan life is. I hope people dig much deeper than that and read history books and learn more about Afghanistan in that way.”
Penguin Random House has compiled a collection of Fiction and Non-fiction Titles to Better Understand America’s Involvement in Afghanistan.
The Kite Runner, spanning Afghan history from the final days of the monarchy to the present, tells the story of a friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Though raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant, is a Hazara. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.
A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the intertwined stories of the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, both married to the same abusive man, during the years of the Soviet occupation, then the civil war and the Taliban dictatorship. This guide is designed to aid teachers in selecting resources that provide background to the novel. It also provides discussion questions and activities for before, during, and after reading the novel. Teachers can select the activities which best fit the needs of their students. This guide may also be useful to independent readers of the novel who are looking for resources to guide their reading.