Orientalist Perspective in ‘The Kite Runner’

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Irfan Ali Shah, Gulzar Ahmad, Salman Hamid Khan, Abdul Hamid Khan, Noor Muhammad Danish Bettani, Nabila


Khaled Hossenei’s (Afghan-American) debut novel, The Kite Runner, written in English, published in the United States, in 2003, reflects various themes such as, family, love, betrayal, redemption, immigrant experience, ethnic disparity etc. It mirrors how the political turbulence in Afghanistan during the last three decades of the 20th century (1973-2001) affected the Afghan population and the country. However, the significant element of the novel lies in the fact that it invited worldwide exposure: the novel published in 38 countries, translated into 62 languages including, Chinese, French, German etc., and sold worldwide into more than 12 million copies. Orientalist approach is embedded in the text of The Kite Runner. Edward Said expressed binary oppositions; West/East, Us/Them, Occident/Orient in his work ‘Orientalism’. His academic discourse, describes a critical approach to representations of the ‘Orient’ in the Eastern culture by the Western orientalists. In The Kite Runner, the relationship between the Orient (Afghans) and the Occident (Americans) is that of power, of dominance, and of a complex hegemony.  According to Michel Foucault, power operates in that processing of information which results in something being labelled as a ‘fact’. Keeping in view Khaled Hossenei’s identity as Afghan-American, the worldwide exposure of the novel, the depiction of Afghanistan under the Taliban as uncivilized state while America as civilized developed one, the very fact cannot be dismissed that the novel has promoted the difference between familiar Us (America) and strange Them (Afghanistan). Hossenei has praised everything American in the novel; the ideas, environment, movies, leaders, cars, musician, things etc, while, depicted Afghanistan as a brutal state under the Taliban. The idea of America has been manipulated in the textual treatment of the novel. The methodology employed in the article is qualitative. This article attempts to examine the orientalist approach employed by the writer in the novel

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