Two days later, I found out Khaled Hosseini was in Raleigh. Now, those of you who know me very well or have been following The Red Angel for a long time know how much I love Hosseini’s novel, “The Kite Runner.” It’s publicly been one of my favorite novels for a long time (publicly, meaning when people ask, ‘What’s your favorite novel?’ I say, “The Kite Runner.”) The book is set in Afghanistan and follows the friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, which is changed forever by a single act of violence. It’s a story of redemption and love, of friendship and forgiveness. You can read some of my old reviews of the book here and here.
Khaled Hosseini, a medical school graduate and the founder of a nonprofit that provides assistance to people living in Afghanistan, also wrote “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” Hosseini’s stop in Raleigh was part of the book tour for his third and most recent novel, “And The Mountains Echoed.”
When I saw the event announcement on Twitter, my heart jumped into my throat as I thought about how cool it would be to meet Khaled Hosseini in person and listen to him speak. But that jump-in-the-throat reaction was followed by a sigh, and I knew there was no way I could drive to Raleigh myself.
My luck turned when a good friend of mine, who, consequentially, knew how much I loved “The Kite Runner,” called and told me he and his friends were going to see Hosseini in Raleigh — and that I could come with him and his friends if I wanted. (If I wanted!) Before I knew it, I was riding in the backseat of a friend’s friend’s car and on my way to Quail Ridge Books. I don’t remember much about the car ride, except that I had Subway and kept repeating the words, What is my life? over and over in my head.
Before the book signing, NPR’s Frank Stasio did an interview with Hosseini, touching on subjects from the writing process to character development in “And The Mountains Echoed” to the culture of and life in Afghanistan.
During Questions From the Audience Time, I plucked up the courage to stand up and ask Khaled Hosseini: “Since you started writing ‘The Kite Runner’ up until now, how have you changed as a writer, an educator, a person? And, if at all, how have these books — these characters you’ve created — changed you?”
“And The Mountains Echoed” is much more complex than his other two books, Hosseini said. Over time, he’s become more drawn toward characters who are conflicted. Instead of revealing themselves completely, the characters are mysterious and self-scrutinizing.
“What drives me to write is the drama, the human element in these stories,” he said. “The motivations for the way they behave.”
Before Hosseini thanked Stasio on stage for coming to interview him for the book event, he left me and the audience with this:
“Stories close the gap and reconcile between what we want life to be and how it actually is,” Hosseini said. “That’s what stories are for.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday, or a better month of June, which is ironic for me to say because of The Great Chapel Hill Flood of 2013.