Friday, 26 February 2010

What Not To Read: The Kite Runner

This is another infamous 3 for 2 classic - by which I mean it never leaves the Waterstone's pyramided tables - which one is constantly told, "Oh, you must read it, it's wonderful, you'll cry all the way through..." So, heeding said advice, I read it.

I'm sighing as I write this, as I fear I'll come across as someone who just hates anything populist, but I really didn't enjoy this book. It has no great literary merit that I can fathom; it fulfils all the criteria of a novel - it tells a story, lots happens, it has good characters and bad characters and good characters that do bad things and must atone - but there is nothing in its style or structure that I find interesting, and that a book "will make me cry" is not, alas, my first consideration when selecting a novel. I became vaguely interested at the point the Taliban take over, hoping in vain that I might be given some insight into the Taliban mindset; instead, I was fed a stereotypical Boys-Own-Adventure 'bad guy' - who rapes children, just in case his publicly stoning a man to death hadn't convinced us of his evil - whose two-dimensionality is patronising in the extreme, to both the Afghan people and the reader.

The catalogue of appalling events that befall our hero eventually became so numerous, so commonplace, so frequent that at last the well of my suspension of disbelief ran completely dry; The Kite Runner is, I'm afraid, little more than a fictional misery memoir.


Rochester Reader said...

Hmmm... a colleague recommended this to me a while ago and also recommended the film. Alas, I don't like to cry and didn't think it would be my cup of tea. Thanks for your thoughts... I don't think I've missed anything.

Steerforth said...

I've never fancied "The Kite Runner", so thanks for removing that 3.7% of doubt that was still lingering.

As a rule, I always avoid novels that are described as "lyrical" in the blurb.

Thomas at My Porch said...

Sometimes I instinctively hate popular fiction and am usually well served by that bias. From time to time the instinct can be wrong, but there are so many books out there that I know are fabulous I can't read them all anyway, so if I accidentally miss one, oh well.