Archive for October, 2012

I just finished reading The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I know, I know–published in 2003 it became a best seller in the US in 2005. I admit that my reading list is a bit out of date, the stack of second-hand books on my dresser a little dusty. However, for several years this novel shared emotional space with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Knowing the plot basis and some of the detail I had shuffled it, and shuffled it again, to the bottom of the stack.

I’ve never been able to get further than about twenty pages into Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Impotent rage at human cruelty, constant betrayal and the genocidal actions of military men and civilians alike prompted me to hurl the book across the room on at least three separate attempts. Thirty years ago, I finally just gave the book away.

When I got desperate for something to read last week, I picked up Hosseini’s novel.

The Kite Runner begins innocently enough; in this fictional memoir of a young Afghani boy’s childhood in pre-revolution Kabul, it is early on that I learn of Amir’s servant, companion, friend Hassan who never tells on him, never denies him anything. The portrait is compelling. It gently  takes me by the hand and draws me in to its dark heart scene by scene until cruelty, betrayal and genocide are revealed here as well. And though I once again felt the impotent rage, I could not throw it down. Almost a decade old, the book’s description of the Afghani people, culture, struggles is still desperately current and it seems that only the names of the guilty have changed.

I happened to start this book on October 7, the 12th anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan. On the 9th, outspoken schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan was shot by a Taliban gunman. I sit here in my little house in Alaska that has never been shelled or occupied by my enemy. I read, write, and speak my mind; I’ve had access to education, technology and the liberty to enjoy both fearlessly all my life. I have a dim but deeply felt sense of just how privileged, how insulated, how 1% I really am. The Sioux at Wounded Knee; Hassan, who represents the faceless; Malala the flesh and bloody girl; these are the 99%.

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