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Flying on new wings

June 24, 2012

Khalid Hosseini’s debut novel, The Kite Runner, became a phenomenon in 2003 when it was released. Nine years later, the graphic novel version of the book that sold millions of copies was released, probably in order to lure in the younger generation.

For those unfamiliar with the novel, The Kite Runner centres on the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul in the 1970s. The first is Amir, the son of a wealthy industrialist, and the other, Hassan, his servant’s hare-lipped son. Both of them are seven years old when the novel begins. Hassan is a Hazara, a race that is still under fire here in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, while Amir is a Pakhtun, who has everything he wants, except his father’s approval. He once hears his father saying that he is nothing like him, and in his attempt to make his father proud, Amir, in the folly of youth, lets Hassan endure one of the worst traumas that can befall anyone.

Due to the overpowering guilt he feels, Amir retracts from Hassan, who tries to make amends for a crime he certainly did not commit. The two boys are then separated; a little while later, Amir and his father move to the US following the worsening situation in Kabul.

Despite the challenges that life in a new land brings, Amir doesn’t forget Hassan; and his guilt does not diminish either with time, until he gets one final chance at redemption — which also brings with it a startling revelation.

The graphic version doesn’t steer too much away from the novel in terms of its storyline. In fact, it would be safe to say that due to the impressive illustrations — designed and coloured by Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo — and the shorter length, it creates quite an impact. Colour has been used expertly; the idyllic childhood scenes that feature Hassan and Amir, and those with Amir and his beloved Soraya, are bathed in luminous hues of gold, while the starker ones in grey and steel blue. Best of all, the graphic novel doesn’t compromise the soul of its predecessor in any way; in fact, it accentuates the drama, action and the romance that made the novel truly memorable.

The reviewer is a Dawn staffer

The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel (Graphic Novel) By Khaled Hosseini Riverhead Books, US ISBN 159448547X 136pp. Rs1,495