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Afghanistan Meets the Amazon: Reading The Kite Runner in America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Abstract

This essay considers the American reception of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner in the context of the Bush administration's global war on terrorism by examining the customer reviews of the novel posted on Amazon. As many of the responses indicate, identification serves as a paradoxical means of negotiating with fictional representations of foreignness. The intense and painful empathy inspired by The Kite Runner serves a valorizing function for American readers, strengthening their sense of their own humanity—an effect that resists strict political categorization. Hosseini's ambivalent conception of what it means to be human, I argue, supports a diversity of competing attitudes toward the United States' military intervention in the Middle East and central Asia, while simultaneously catering to fantasies of escape from ideological and cultural divisions altogether.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 by The Modern Language Association of America

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