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Barnes & Noble interview with Khaled Hosseini

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JM: One of the reasons your books have been so beloved by readers, I suspect, is that, while you're writing about a culture that may not be familiar to non-Afghans, your ability to broadcast so clearly, if you will, from a child's wavelength strikes some universal chord that is evocative for many people; as a result, we're immediately linked to the protagonist more strongly than we might be if you had started with a teenager or a young adult whose experience might be more narrowly circumstantial and less broadly recognizable. I think of Dickens, who often takes us from the earliest consciousness of a child all the way through the adulthood of his or her central character. Following that thread is consoling, in a way, because we've shared something of the journey it marks ourselves.

KH: No matter where we're born, which countries we're raised in, what cultures we come from, there are some universal experiences we all have as children. I don't want to say that we're all the same, but we all kind of start the same. We want the love of our parents, we want companionship, we want friends, we want to have fun, we want to play, and we're all hurt the first time we learn that the world is a far from perfect place -- it's the start of a series of epiphanies and realizations that is what growing up is all about. in particular is a story about childhood and disillusionment and growing up to be a less-than-perfect adult. I think in that book people see their own childhoods, even though the story is set in Kabul in the 1970s. People remember what it felt like to be a child, what it felt like to feel so passionately about things that, in the end, were so completely inconsequential. People remember how stable and permanent life felt when they were kids, when the notion that everything they'd ever known and loved could change -- the possibility that you would become something else -- was entirely absent. It doesn't matter if you're from New York or Kabul; at some level, kids are kids.

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