The Kite Runner is Khaled Hosseini's first novel. He was a practicing physician until shortly after the book's release and has now devoted himself to being an author and activist. The story of The Kite Runner is fictional, but it is rooted in real political and historical events ranging from the last days of the Afghan monarchy in the 1970s to the post-Taliban near present. It is also based on Hosseini's memories of growing up in the Wazir Akbar Khan section of Kabul and adapting to life in California. In a 2003 interview with Newsline, Hosseini specified that the most autobiographical parts of The Kite Runner are those about "the difficult task of assimilating into a new culture." He also revealed, "My father and I did work for a while at the flea market and there really are rows of Afghans working there, some of whom I am related to." Because Hassan did not return to Kabul until 2003, after The Kite Runner's publication, much of his portrayal of Afghanistan after the Soviet takeover is based on research. Hosseini's choice of time period for the book, though corresponding with his own life, also went beyond his personal experiences. He has said that he did not just want to call attention to the devastation in Afghanistan; he set out to remind the world that until the last few decades, before the world's eye was drawn to it by violence, Afghanistan was a generally peaceful nation.
Structurally, The Kite Runner can be divided into three sections: memories of pre-conflict Afghanistan, adjusting to life in America, and returning to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Thematically, it can be divided into just two: life before the rape and life after the rape. From any angle, The Kite Runner is a tale of love, betrayal, and redemption and it gained an enthusiastic audience from the start. After its 2003 release, The Kite Runner became a New York Times Bestseller and was eventually published in thirty-eight different countries, although not yet Afghanistan. Critics praised the book's intimate examination of relationships amid the fraught and very topical environment of Afghanistan. Many of them, however, expressed disappointment regarding some coincidences, specifically the way that Amir and Assef reunite. One reviewer called the moment "more suited to a folk tale" and another even deemed it worthy of a "B movie." Despite such comments, critical and popular response to The Kite Runner was almost universally positive.
The Kite Runner's most adoring readers and also some of its most critical are Hosseini's fellow Afghan expatriates. Hosseini said in a 2003 interview, "I get daily e-mails from Afghans who thank me for writing this book, as they feel a slice of their story has been told by one of their own. So, for the most part, I have been overwhelmed with the kindness of my fellow Afghans. There are, however, those who have called the book divisive and objected to some of the issues raised in the book, namely racism, discrimination, ethnic inequality etc." In addition to the deep feelings Hosseini's first novel aroused in the hearts of fellow Afghans, it also spurred a more lighthearted response, the resurgence of interest in kite fighting in America. The American invasion of Afghanistan may have 'put Afghanistan on the map' for Americans, but The Kite Runner goes farther by giving a detailed, human account of life and survival there. Its author continues this service to the world by serving as an activist in addition to writing. Hosseini has said, "If this book generates any sort of dialogue among Afghans, then I think it will have done a service to the community." As we know The Kite Runner has sparked conversation among Afghans and countless other groups of people worldwide. It is not such a surprise to Hosseini's admirers that a physician, accustomed to caring for people's bodies, has made such a graceful transition to caring for their histories and spirits.