Khaled Hosseini has written and published two books that have secured a spot in history. “The Kite Runner” and “1000 Splendid Suns” are his two masterpieces that both earned their honors as New York Times Best Sellers. The two stories are about life in Afghanistan, both the good and the bad, to tell the rest of the world about the lives of the Afghans.
Incoming freshman classes at the university have been required to read both of his works as a part of an orientation class. These assignments have both taught the students as well as inspired them to know more about Hosseini and Afghanistan.
Hosseini came to speak at the annual Schooler Lecture at the University of Mount Union on Thursday. He was more than willing to answer the questions that the Mount Union community had for him.
Aside from wanting to know more about the inspiration for his books, everyone wanted to know more about his opinions on Afghanistan.
He knows that the literacy rate is a large problem in Afghanistan. The fact that a majority of citizens are not able to read weighs down on factors that one might not realize. How can these people vote in the democratic process if they are not even familiar with the political issues because they cannot read? Hosseini is very optimistic about the future, however, stating that education is a bright spot on the road to Afghanistan’s stability.
“Contrary to popular belief Afghanistan is not stuck in the thirteenth century,” Hosseini stated. “If you go to Kabul, you will see booming enterprise, businesses, people involved in IT. It is a very young nation; 65 percent of the country is under the age of 25. A lot of these young people are very energetic and enthusiastic about the future of their country. So I think that is one misconception. Also, Afghans are not a nation of warriors; they are sick and tired of war. They want their country to have a peaceful resolution to these cycles of wars that have been going on for 30 years.”
The audience learned that his books were written for multiple reasons. He doesn’t have a specific message that is being sent out through his writings; he wants each of his readers to pick up their own messages. However, he does want his readers to realize that we no longer live in a world where events that affect us are those in our zip code.
“The first step towards expanding and growing,” Hosseini concluded, “is to understand what it means to live in a community.”
The audience also learned about how Hosseini became a writer.
As children, Hosseini and his friends had to find fun things to do. After getting bored with causing the usual mischief, his circle of friends would all tell each other stories that gave him what he referred to as an “intoxicating feeling.”
After finding that writing held a special place in his heart, Hosseini continued this hobby all the way up until he decided to go to medical school. He had always wanted to be a writer but never thought he could make a proper living by doing so.
To make his family proud, Hosseini went through medical school and soon became a doctor, pushing writing aside. He settled with the fact that he was a studious, patient person and that being a doctor would probably be his best fit.
“It was a sense of sacrifice,” said Hosseini. “It seemed ridiculous to just be a writer after everything my family went through, so we pushed for medical school for rational reasons. It was kind of like a love affair; being a doctor was like an arranged marriage while writing was my high school sweetheart.”
Hosseini went on to fulfill his hobby and he started to write The Kite Runner but only for himself, never having the thought of being published cross his mind.
Once The Kite Runner was published, he realized how important it was that he informed the world of life in Afghanistan. He had a moment where he knew he wanted to change his career path to writing, but he still waited for a sign.
One night he was watching Jeopardy and his name was the answer to a question. He took this as the strongest sign that could have been sent and he took a year off from his career as a doctor and from there he stumbled into his life as a writer.
“We all want to be better,” Hosseini explained. “We all want to pursue happiness.”