Khaled Hosseini (b. 1965) is an Afghan-American writer. His debut novel, The Kite Runner, won the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize in 2004. Just like his debut novel, Hosseini’s following novels – A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed – are set in Afghanistan and have Afghan main characters.
The main events are set in Afghanistan in the 1970s, more specifically in Kabul. When Amir is young, his childhood home reflects Baba’s high social status and his influence as a businessman:
Some thought it was the prettiest house in all of Kabul. A broad entryway flanked by rosebushes led to the sprawling house of marble floors and wide windows. Intricate mosaic tiles, handpicked by Baba in Isfahan, covered the floors of the four bathrooms. Gold-stitched tapestries, which Baba had bought in Calcutta, lined the walls; a crystal chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling. (Chapter 2, 17%)
One room, in particular, captures Amir’s attention: Baba’s “smoking room” (Chapter 2, 18%). Amir witnesses his father and his friends smoking and talking about politics or sports, and wishes to be invited in. However, the room is almost always forbidden, as Baba refuses to let him in: “I’d sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter” (Chapter 2, 45%).
In contrast to Amir’s beautiful house, Hassan and Ali’s mud shack becomes a symbol of their lower social status:
I remember it was spare, clean, dimly lit by a pair of kerosene lamps. There were two mattresses on opposite sides of the room, a worn Herati rug with frayed edges in between, a three-legged stool, and a wooden table in the corner where Hassan did his drawings. The walls stood bare, save for a single tapestry with sewn-in beads forming the words Allah-u-akbar. Baba had bought it for Ali on one of his trips to Mashad. (Chapter 2, 50%)