Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Kite Runner - August 12, 2011

Many thanks to Priya who provided this account of the session. It was a highly enjoyable reading with seven members present.

 Bobby holds forth as Zakia, Talitha and Minu listen

Some felt that the book had too many coincidences designed to result in the right outcome. But all agreed the writing was very good and at times, even lyrical. 

The book deals with many subjects: the break up of Afghanistan, ethnic hostilities between the Pashtun and Hazara communities, gender inequalities, the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban. 

 Minu, Priya, Talitha, Sivaram, and Thommo

The readers thought The Kite Runner was ideal for a Bollywood Box Office hit and they chose actors from the industry who might play the roles.

Welcome back to Sivaram who attended after a lapse of two years.

To read more click below.
Full Account of the KRG Reading session of The Kite Runner at Cochin Yacht Club on August 12, 2011

Attendees: Minu Ittyipe, Zakia Abbas, Thomas Chacko, Paul George, Talitha Mathew, Priyadarshini Sharma and Sivaram Sreekandath

Absentees: Joe and Kumkum Cleetus (On holiday) Indira Outcalt (busy with home), Soma Kanjilal (reason not known), Amita Palat (moved to Chennai)

It was a well attended reading with seven members present.

Zakia began the reading as she had to leave early for Ramadan fasting. She read a passage where Amir and the reticent Sohrab share a short exchange about the possibility of taking Sohrab to America. This would, Amir tells Sohrab, entail a brief stint in an orphanage in Pakistan, a suggestion to which Sohrab reacts badly. Memories of a horrible stay in an orphanage agitate him and he cries himself to sleep.

Zakia said she enjoyed the book very much and had seen the film too.

Talitha felt that despite The Kite Runner being a highly popular book she felt it had too many co-incidental situations and was melodramatic beyond her taste. She cited many examples to substantiate her point of view.

To her the book did not have "normal pathos," and this made her uneasy. Bobby interjected that the cruelty and its excesses constituted realism, though he agreed that the structure was a bit too predictable. Amir is able to redeem himself through a succession of events which seem contrived. Nevertheless, Talitha enjoyed the book.

Sivaram appreciated what he called the lyrical and visual quality of the language, and read a couple of short passages elucidating his point.

He spoke about an article by Richard Corliss in Time magazine on the adventures about the making of this film.

Minu said that the book was written for a Western audience and perhaps the style of writing was the by-product of a ‘creative writing’ school which the author might have attended.

A fairly humorous and lengthy discussion on "guilt" ensued - about the Christian notion of guilt and its treatment in other religions. Sivaram said that guilt was not so vital a tenet in Hinduism and the group generally felt that it wasn’t critical in Islamic theology, either.

Minu said that in Afghan society there was no guilt associated with illegitimate children. Bobby used the term "existential guilt," a term used by RD Laing.

The break up of Afghanistan, the ethnic hostilities between the Pashtun and Hazara communities, gender inequalities, the Soviet invasion, and the rise of Taliban were all briefly touched upon.

A funny digression was when everybody felt that the novel was ideal for a Bollywood Box Office and chose actors from the industry to play the roles. The group decided that Aamir Khan, despite his age, would be best suited to play Amir and the Late Amrish Puri with his stentorian voice would be suitable for the role of Baba, the proud Afghani businessman. Sivaram mimicked the scene where Amir, deeply ridden by his guilt asks Hassan to retaliate and hit him with pomegranates but the servile Hassan refuses to do so. 

This scene of the ruddy pomegranates hitting Hassan on his forehead and busting and his stoic tolerance was enacted comically by Sivaram. These asides made the reading enjoyable.

Thommo read the passage related to kite flying and narrated his experiences with it in Kolkata. Kum Kum would have loved to hear and add to his tales, coming from Bengal. The men got into the fray and everyone had a small kite related anecdote to share.
Bob read a poignant passage from the end of the novel when Amir is back in America with Sohrab. It is about the coming to terms wit his father’s shared love between Hassan, his illegitimate son and Amir, his son in the eyes of the world.

Priya had lost the passage which she had book-marked and read another one chosen by Talitha - it is about a chilling description of a type of killing, common in the Afghanistan of that time. Everyone agreed about the visual clarity of Khaled Hosseini’s prose and its fine lyrical quality.

Minu said that about 2 million people had been killed in Afghanistan, and 5 million refugees had fled the country since the beginning of external intervention in the eighties.

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