Khaled Hosseini has a gift of creating characters that you feel like you’ve already met at certain points in your life. Perhaps it’s a skill he acquired when he worked as a physician in California. The general atmosphere of his writing s sombre, with this imminent feeling of ‘something bad is going to happen’. Setting the scene in pre-war Afghanistan, I loved how he depicts the various faces, lives and personalities that can exist in a place typically typecast in the Western world . The characters were complex with full lives that one could place them anywhere in the world, except for the Afghan history and idiosyncrasies that underlie the story. Religion, culture and politics are the propellants of all his characters lives, and he certainly has a knack for depicting how the choices of one individual can impact so many people in generations to come. In the most haunting way, of course. I found the opening characters of Abdullah and his little sister Pari the most endearing throughout the book and was so invested in how their fathers onerous life would impact theirs. The characters became all the more believable as Hosseini chose not not stick to the third or first person only rule in his narrations, which gives the reader the different perspectives of each character. An Afghan by birth, the story telling is all the more poignant given the first hand experiences of the author.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Meant to provoke thought about the generations who survived WWll and born just after, Bernhard Schlink wrote this book as though it were really his personal journal. Often getting so lost in reflection that the reader (pun intended, thank you) almost feels like they’re looking at a private thought process taking place. I enjoyed how very stoic Hanna was, and yet indulged in a wanton relationship with a boy half her age. It also brought to my attention a simple privilege that I often enjoy, and yet never really acknowledge just how paramount it is to my livelihood and being: the ability to read. The plot is about a young boy who falls in love with a secretive older woman, who freaks out at what seems like irrational reasons. What’s surprising , is that Schlink chose illiteracy as the root of her secret – in a First World country. Or is it not that surprising given the incredible impact war has on human nature and that there could be more illiterate people in developed places than we may think? Hanna was my favourite character because she never wavered in what she believed, even in the face a life imprisonment. Micheal Berg, the protagonist, becomes so damaged by the ending of the relationship that he shuts off emotionally and takes on an arrogant veneer that will later ruin his adult relationships. As he becomes an adult, Micheal constructs two damaged caricatures in his mind - one of himself as an arrogant and untouchable academic, and one of her as an unlettered seductress - and becomes so convinced of these persona's that he takes it on as part of himself, and feels completely disconnected from Hanna all those years later when she had changed so much physically. With an abrupt ending and a litany of though provoking questions, The Reader is ranked one of the best German books written of all time, and has become a successful movie.