On this day in 1965, Khaled Hosseini, author of the best-selling novel “The Kite Runner,” is born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hosseini’s semiautobiographical book was credited with helping to educate Western readers about Afghanistan, a country many of them knew little about.
As a child, Hosseini, the oldest of five siblings, lived in Afghanistan and Tehran, Iran, before moving with his family to Paris, France, in 1976 when his diplomat father was posted there by the Afghan Foreign Ministry. In 1980, the family, unable to return to their homeland, which had been invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979, was granted political asylum in America. They settled in San Jose, California, where Hosseini learned English at high school. In 1988, he graduated from Santa Clara University with a biology degree, and went on to earn a medical degree from the University of California-San Diego in 1993.
In the spring of 2001, while practicing internal medicine in California, Hosseini began writing “The Kite Runner,” the coming-of-age story of two Afghan boys in Kabul, one from a privileged background and the other a servant’s son. The novel is set against several decades of Afghan history, including the fall of the monarchy in 1973, the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban regime in the 1990s, which was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion following the September, 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on United States.
Hosseini, who had no formal training as an author, has credited his native country’s strong tradition of oral storytelling as an influence on his writing style. “The Kite Runner” was published in 2003, and eventually became an international best-seller. The novel has been translated into more than 40 languages, and a big-screen adaptation was released in 2007. That same year, Hosseini published his second novel, “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” which also became a best-seller.
With the success of his writing career, Hosseini, who gave up practicing medicine in 2004, established a foundation to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.