June 16, 2007

The American Place Theater Presents Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner"


I remember reading The Kite Runner a couple of years ago, and then buying a second copy to mail to my father, living some ten thousand miles away, as a must-read. The Kite Runner was perhaps the first novel I read that was set in Afghanistan, the cultural ambiance of which fascinated me no end; the family dynamics, the male domination, the willing serfdom, and the passive acceptance of violence and aggression as a way of life had me spellbound. I am told Hosseini, at first, had submitted the manuscript of The Kite Runner as a short story. Apparently, the story made such an impact that publishers encouraged him to expand the story into a novel; that he sure did because the Kite Runner is 400+ pages long and spans over three generations.

The reason I'm pondering on a novel I read three years ago is because I revisited it today when I watched Ariyan Moayed do a verbatim theatrical adaptation of it for The American Place Theater - Literature to Life series. The solo performance was superb in that it brought the story alive. Ariyan Moayed, the solo performer, gave each of the five characters he played a distinct life of his own. His mastery of the bodily adjustments he made to suit individual characters was remarkable. For example, when playing Hassan, the servant boy, Ariyan was slightly bent over but with eager wide-eyed looks eager to please his master at any cost. Then for playing Amir, the rich but cowardly son of a powerful Pashtun landlord, Ariyan adopted jerky body movements that so aptly portrayed Amir's indecisiveness especially during trying and stressful situations. Indeed, Ariyan Moayed brought the novel to life in his rendition of but the first seventy pages of the novel, and it will be credit to him if the sale of the novel suddenly skyrockets in the tri state area since I saw bus loads of high school students at this performance.

Wynn Handman who adapted and directed this solo verbatim is a part of the American Place Theater group that aspires to make Literature closer to the lives of young Americans so that they are encouraged to read. It's a good first step, and what I saw today looks very promising, but a lot will depend on the kinds of novels that are picked for adaptation. For instance the fact that The Kite Runner was set in Afghanistan made for a lot of initial curiosity in the audience, and then of course Ariyan did the rest. The selection of novels will be crucial to the success of the Literature to Life project of The American Place Theater.

"The Kite Runner" is a heartrending story of friendship, guilt, and forgiveness that spans across two continents and three generations that lived through the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the American invasion of it, and then the horrifying Taliban ordeal that followed. The novel needs no recommending; the fact that it had been on the NYT bestseller list for two years and has sold some four million copies says it all.

*Khaled Hosseini's new book titled "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is out this month, and the reviews are promising.

18 comments:

D said...

Hey I agree with you...its a good read. But I ain't sure whether movies or theatrical adaptions of the book make the same impact. I watch a play based on WD's 'City of Djjins' but it was OK...somehow I feel the charm is lost.

Mellowdrama said...

I loved the book but I thought the ends tied up just a bit too neatly for my liking. But I belong to the school of thought where the ending should be left open to interpretation. For a debut novel, it is absolutely stunning. I gifted it to my mum and then my mum-in-law...lol saw the post on City of Djjins - that is brilliant too, of course much more so if you LIVE in Delhi (which I did for a large part of my life!) Trying to get my paws on the Last Mughal. Any other good book recommendations? Btw I think a book written from a child's perspective is ever so much more touching...have you read - THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME and of coz TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD??

Lisa Francisco aka AVIANA said...

I would love to read this book...thanks for the review....

hey at least the theatrical adaptation gave us non-readers a glimpse on the beauty of the book as how you've described

Nandini said...

last night my sister brought this book to me, she said that it made her cry ( that alone was enough for me to postpone reading it)

_Jonathan_ said...

Great review. (always)
It's good to see good theatrical adaptations of literature we love.
See ya.
bye.

pRicky said...

It hits at those aspects of the psyche which cannot be divided or be rare whichever country.
I have always considered the magic and the world created by books unattainable by another medium.
It somehow restricts the way we tend to imagine.
A movie restricts your imagination while books flurish them...

Id it is said...

pricky,
that's an oft debated point you've brought up. I too think books let the readers imagination soar. We make of the story what our imaginations leads us to believe, and this is, indeed, enthralling!

Lisa Francisco aka AVIANA said...

thank you for stopping by! i will update tonite or tomorrow about yesterday! it was awesome!

i'm really tired and sleepy from all the preparation for yesterday and of work..and it's not done yet...i have another showcase in less than 2 weeks....sigh...but good..wish i didn't have to work but still had money in pocket to not worry about paying my bills...sigh... :)

have a nice day!

lash said...

yeah that was a fabulous read.. this monoact is a miss in all sense. its a good initiative, i hope people respond to this.

starry nights said...

I recieved the book as a birthday gift and enjoyed the book so much that i bought it for two of my friends.I think Hosseini is come out with another book.I forget the name but am looking forward to reading it.thanks for the review.

Id it is said...

mellowdrama,
I've heard great things about the Last Mughal and I hope to read it over the summer. As for To Kill a Mocking Bird, it's an all time classic and I've loved it each time that I've read it.

Klara said...

Sounds Interesting..Hope to Catch it!
BTW..Well written

samrina said...

definitely i m gonna read this book... thnx for sharing ur views

takecare

AKA J3R4L said...

Hi! hmm... I really enjoyed reading the book. I think it's one of the few books that have had an impact in my way of viewing things, especially "friendship".

Id it is said...

aka j3r4l
Thanks for stopping by. Your comment made me ponder on what really "friendship" entails. This may very well be my next post.

Manas Shaikh said...

I finallly bought the book. I wanted a first hand account too badly.

The book was really good. It shows that Afghanistan was not all about illeteracy and Taliban. It was made so.

I had guessed that, because I have a slight idea about Afghanistan's past achievements.

I hope it helps understand Afghanistan better.

By the way, have you watched 'Children of Heaven' yet?

Id it is said...

Manas,
I'm glad you liked this one; you may like the new one too. It's quite some story! A tad contrived, but gripping all the same.
No I haven't watched Children of Heaven. Do you recommend it?

EXSENO said...

I think I would really like to read The Kite Runner. I also agree with pricky.