Biography of Khaled Hosseini (1965-)
Khaled Hosseini was born on March 4, 1965 in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan as the oldest of five children. His father worked for the Afghan Foreign Ministry as a diplomat, and his mother was a high school teacher of Farsi and history. When he was five years old, his family moved from Kabul to Tehran, Iran. They returned to Kabul in the historic year of 1973, when Afghanistan became a republic. In 1976, his family followed his father to Paris. After the PDPA (the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) seized control of the government in 1978 and the Soviets occupied Afghanistan shortly thereafter, the Hosseini family decided to seek political asylum in the United States instead of returning to Kabul. They moved to San Jose, California, where Hosseini graduated from high school. He attended Santa Clara University and earned a degree in biology.
After college, Hosseini decided to become a physician. He attended the University of California-San Diego's School of Medicine, where he completed his M.D. in 1993. He served his medical residency at the well-respected Cedars-Sinai hospital of Los Angeles and became an internist. Hosseini started writing The Kite Runner in 2001 while he was a practicing physician.
Hosseini published The Kite Runner in 2003 to critical acclaim. Parts of the novel are based on Hosseini's childhood in the Kabul neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan. While some events in the story echo those in this life, the novel is fictional. By May 2007, it had been published in thirty-eight countries but not Afghanistan.
In 2003, while The Kite Runner was gaining a vast following, Hosseini returned to Afghanistan for the first time in twenty-seven years. He was disturbed to discover just how terrible the situation there had become, even though he had already written a very graphic fictional account of it. Hosseini has stated that a combination of luck and material privilege saved him and his family from suffering under the Soviets and the Taliban, much like his protagonist, Amir. He told Time Magazine that he struggled with his freedom: "I felt ashamed, like I should have suffered more." Hosseini felt estranged from the devastation in Afghanistan, but his separation from his homeland and his "Western sensibility" combined in his fiction to bring America's, and the world's, attention to the faces of Afghanistan.
Hosseini published his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, in May 2007. Unlike The Kite Runner, which centers around relationships between men, A Thousand Splendid Suns focuses on those between women. In the months since its release, the novel has garnered a plethora of positive reviews.
Hosseini's devotion to Afghanistan can be seen not only in his writing but also in his activism. He has been a goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, since 2006, and his personal website contains links to many aid organizations that are helping Afghanistan. Interviewers describe Hosseini as a smart, handsome man with a calming air, and Time Magazine called him "almost certainly the most famous Afghan in the world." Khaled Hosseini lives with his wife and two children in Northern California.