Khaled Hosseini

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Hosseini in 2007

Khaled Hosseini (born March 4, 1965) is a physician and author of the best selling novel, The Kite Runner.


  • A man ... found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife's slain body in his arms.
  • I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.
    • Ch. 1
  • Ali and Sanaubar had little in common, least of all their respective appearances. While Sanaubar’s brilliant green eyes and impish face had, rumor has it, tempted countless men into sin, Ali had a congenital paralysis of his lower facial muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grim-faced. It was an odd thing to see the stone-faced Ali happy, or sad, because only his slanted brown eyes glinted with a smile or welled with sorrow. People say that eyes are windows to the soul. Never was that more true than with Ali, who could only reveal himself through his eyes.

    I have heard that Sanaubar’s suggestive stride and oscillating hips sent men to reveries of infidelity.

    • Ch. 2
  • Then he would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break.

    Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.

    Mine was Baba.

    His was Amir. My name.

    Looking back on it now, I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975—and all that followed—was already laid in those first words (11).

    • Ch. 2
  • Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors.
    • Rahim Khan, Ch. 3
  • With me as the glaring exception, my father molded the world around him to his liking. The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can't love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.
  • If America taught me anything, it's that quitting is right up there with pissing in the Girl Scouts' lemonade jar.
  • Lore has it my father once wrestled a black bear in Baluchistan with his bare hands. If the story had been about anyone else, it would have been dismissed as "laaf", that Afghan tendency to exaggerate-- sadly, almost a national affliction; if someone bragged that his son was a doctor, chances were the kid had once passed a biology test in high school. But no one ever doubted the veracity of any story about Baba. And if they did, well, Baba did have those three parallel scars coursing a jagged path down his back. I have imagined Baba's wrеstling match countless times, evеn dreamed about it. And in those dreams, I can never tell Baba from the bear.
    • Amir, Ch. 3
  • I see you've confused what you're learning in school with actual education ... But if what he said is true then does it make you a sinner, Baba? ... Then I'll tell you ... but first understand this and understand it now, Amir; You'll never learn anything of value from those bearded idiots ... I mean all of them. Piss on the beards of all those self- righteous monkeys. They do nothing but thumb their rosaries and recite a book written in a tongue they don't understand ... They do nothing but thumb their prayer beads and recite a book written in a tongue they don't even understand. God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands ... Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that? ... There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. ... When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness ... There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir ... A man who takes what's not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of "naan"... I spit on such a man. And if I ever cross paths with him, God help him. Do you understand?
    • Baba, Ch. 3
  • One time, when I was really little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I'd just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn't have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.
  • Hassan slumps to the asphalt, his life of unrequited loyalty drifting from him like the windblown kites he used to chase.
  • I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.
  • I think that everything he did, feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, it was all a way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.
  • That was a long time ago, but it's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out.
    • (1)
  • But coming close wasn't the same as winning, was it? ... He had won because winners won and everyone else just went home.
    • (56)
  • It was Homaira and me against the world. ... In the end, the world always wins. That's just the way of things.
    • (99) Rahim Khan
  • War doesn't negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.
    • Baba (115)
  • I stepped back and all I saw was rain through windowpanes that looked like melting silver.
    • (109)
  • You're gutless. It's how you were made. And that's not such a bad thing because your saving grace is that you've never lied to yourself about it. Not about that. Nothing wrong with cowardice as long as it comes with prudence. But when a coward stops remembering who he is.. God help him.
    • (288) Amir
  • But that's what I'm saying to you... That there are bad people in this world, and sometimes bad people stay bad. Sometimes you have to stand up to them.
    • (319) Amir
  • Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.
    • (361)
  • How could I of all people, chastise someone for their past?
    • Amir
  • There is a way to be good again.
    • (2) - Rahim Khan
  • For you, a thousand times over.
    • (2) - Hassan, Amir
  • I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn't care. I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the valley of Panjsher on my lips. I ran.
    • P. 391
  • Is this about you and Hassan? I know there's something going on between you two, but whatever it is, you have to deal with it, not me. I'm staying out of it.
    • Baba (79)
  • Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood.
    • Assef (35)
  • Fuck the Russia!
    • Baba (117)
  • Hassan's not going anywhere. He's staying right here with us, where he belongs. This is his home and we're his family. Don't you ever ask me that question again!
    • Baba (79-80)
  • I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn't I? The least I could have done was to have the decency to have turned out a little more like him.
    • Amir (19)
  • But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.
    • Baba (58)
  • Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. -Nana
  • I know you're still young, but I want you to understand and learn this now, he said. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You're a very, very bright girl. Truly, you are. You can be anything you want, Laila I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over, Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, Laila No chance. -Babi
  • What good is it? All this, what good is it? -Mariam
  • I dream of you too, Mariam jo. I miss you. I miss the sound of your voice, your laughter. I miss reading to you, and all the times we fished together. Do you remember all the times we fished together? You were a good daughter, Mariam jo, and I cannot ever think of you without feeling shame and regret. -Jalil's letter
  • Regret...when it comes to you, I have oceans of it.
    • Jalil's letter
  • Women have always had it hard in this country, Laila, but they're probably more free now, under the communists, and have more rights than they've ever had before.
    • Babi
  • *Mariam is having a flashback*
  • Jailil: Ah yes. Of course. Well then, without further ado...
  • (a gold pendent with stars and moons hanging from it)
  • Jalil: try it on, Mariam jo.
  • Mariam: What do you think?
  • Jalil: I think you look like a queen.
  • And I wrote to you, Laila. Volumes. -
    • Tariq
  • Mariam: I can't believe what you are now, if you were a Benz before.
  • Laila: A jeep? Maybe a jumbo jet?
  • Nana (to Mariam): When I'm gone, you'll have nothing in this world. You are nothing!
  • Nana (to Mariam) : A man's heart isn't like a woman's womb, Mariam! It won't bleed, it won't make room for you. A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing. I'm all you have in this world, Mariam and when I'm gone, you'll have nothing. You are nothing!
  • Laila (at fourteen years): What would your mother say when she saw you smoke?
  • Tariq: She doesn't know
  • Laila: That could change
  • Tariq: Who's going to tell her? You?
  • Laila: Tell your secrets to the wind but don't blame it for telling the trees.
  • Tariq: I do it for the girls
  • Laila: What girls?
  • Tariq: They think its sexy
  • Giti: Nobody ever came for my hand.
  • Hasina: That's because you have a beard, my dear.
  • Tariq (meeting Laila after ten years): It's good to see you, Laila.
  • Mullah Faizullah: It wasn't your fault,Mariam. Don't think this way. This will destroy you, my girl. It wasn't your fault.
  • Laila: It isn't fair.
  • Mariam: No, it is fair. I killed our husband, Laila. I deprived your son of a father. Even if we escape, I...I won't be able to look at him without shame. No, it's my fault. Take care, Laila jo.
  • Tariq: For you, Laila, I'd go all over the world
  • "Mariam is never very far, she is here, in these walls they've repainted, in the trees they've planted, in the blankets that keep the children warm, in these pillows and books and pencils. She is in the children's laughter. She is in the verses Aziza recites and in the prayers she mutters when she bows westward. But, mostly, Miriam is in Laila's own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns."
    • Chapter, 51.

  • It wasn't easy tolerating him talking this way to her, to bear his scorn, his ridicule, his insults, his walking past her like she was nothing but a house cat. But after four years of marriage, Mariam saw clearly how much a woman could tolerate when she was afraid. And Mariam was afraid.
    • Mariam, p. 98
  • And that, my young friends, is the story of our country, one invader after another. Macedonians. Sassanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we're like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.
    • Cab Driver, p. 146
  • Maybe it was senseless to want to be near a person so badly here in a country where bullets had shredded her own brothers to pieces. But all Laila had to do was picture Tariq going at Khadim with his leg and then nothing in the world seemed more sensible to her.
    • Laila, p. 153
  • It always falls on the sober to pay for the sins of the drunk.
    • Wajma, p. 228
  • The Chinese say it is better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one.
    • Laila, p. 250
  • It does not frighten me to leave this life that my only son left five years ago, this life that insists we bear sorrow upon sorrow long after we can bear no more. No, I believe I shall gladly take my leave when the time comes.
    What frightens me, hamshira, is the day God summons me before him and asks, Why did you not do as I said, Mullah? Why did you not obey my laws? How shall I explain myself to him, hamshira? What will be my defense for not heeding His commands? All I can do, all any of us can do, in the time we are granted, is to go on abiding by the laws He has set for us. The clearer I see my end, hamsira, the nearer I am to my day of reckoning, the more determined I grow to carry out His word. However painful it may prove.
    • Talib Judge, p. 366
  • I am tired and I am dying, and I want to be merciful. I want to forgive you. But when God summons me and says, But it wasn't for you to forgive, Mullah, what shall I say?
    • Talib Judge, p. 366
  • She was leaving the world as woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. No. It was not so bad, Mariam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad.
    • Mariam, p. 370
  • Every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.
    • Laila, p. 395
  • Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.
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