Re-presenting the Orient: A Re-Orientalist Study of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (2003)

Authors

  • Somia Sohail Assistant Professor, Department of English, Islamabad Model College for Girls (Postgraduate), F-7/2, Islamabad Author
  • Ayesha Siddiqa Assistant Professor, Area Study Center, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad Author

Keywords:

re-Orientalism, patriarchal maleness, femininization, Khaled Hosseini, Orient, Afghanistan

Abstract

Diasporic writing is generally regarded as representative of the native people and their culture. In this regard, South Asia has been depicted in a variety of ways by writers of South Asian origins living in the West. While considered representatives of the South Asian tradition, diasporic writers’ depiction of the region, its people, and their culture has also come under scrutiny for reinforcing the East/West binary that reinstates the latter’ superiority. Khaled Hosseini is among those South Asian writers whose fiction is informed by his declaration “that Afghanistan is ‘my land of origin’” (Aubry, 2009, pp. 27-28); however, while Hosseini’s work has been a major source of information about Afghanistan for the West, at home, he is, at best, an ambivalent figure that has invited criticism pertaining to his representation of Afghanistan especially in his debut novel, The Kite Runner (2003). This article critically analyzes Hossini’s The Kite Runner through the lens of Lisa Lau’s theorization of re-Orientalism (2009) and bell hooks’s notion of patriarchal maleness to argue that the novel perceives the Afghan land and people through a patriarchal gaze that renders them inferior and subordinate, hence feminine vis-à-vis the superior, masculine, and patriarchal West. In this way, the novel ends up reinforcing the Orientalist project of perpetuating stereotypical images of the Orient. While previous scholarship mainly focuses on the development of the protagonist’s character through the themes of guilt, sin, and redemption in the novel, the uniqueness of this paper lies in its exploration of the text’s re-Orientalist proclivity. Critically analyzing the novel’s depiction of Afghanistan, its people, and culture, the paper argues that the text, through its patriarchal gaze, accords a superior place to maleness and reinforces the Western practice of feminizing the Orient.

References

Aubry, T. (2009). Afghanistan Meets the "Amazon": Reading "The Kite Runner" in America. PMLA, 124(1), 25-43. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.jstor,org/stable/25614246

Blumenthal, R. (2012). Looking for Home in the Islamic Diaspora of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Azar Nafisi, and Khaled Hosseini. Arab Studies Quarterly, 34(4), 250-264. Retrieved April 9, 2024, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41858711

Caillouet, R. R. (2006). The Other Side of Terrorism and the Children of Afghanistan. The English Journal, 96(2), 28-33. doi:http://doi.org/10.2307/30047124

Chan, S. (2010). The Bitterness of the Islamic Hero in Three Recent Western Works of Fiction. Third World Quarterly, 31(5), 829-832. doi:http://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2010.502697

hooks, b. (2004). Understanding Patriarchy. In b. hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (pp. 29-41). New York: Atria Books.

Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books.

Hosseini, K. (2013). Foreword to the 10th Anniversary Edition. The Kite Runner, xi-xiv. New York: Riverhead Books.

Inayatullah, N. (2013). Pulling Threads: Intimate Systematicity in 'The Politics of Exile'. Security Dialogue, 44(4), 331-45. Retrieved April 10, 2024, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/26302240

Ivanchikova, A. (2017). Imagining Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11: Conflicting literary chronographies of one invasion. Textual Practice, 31(1), 197-216. doi:http://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2016.1237987

Jefferess, D. (2009). To be good (again): The Kite Runner an allegory of global ethics. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 45(4), 389-400. doi:http:'//doi.org/10.1080/17449850903273572

Lau, L. (2005). Making the Difference: The Differing Presentations and Representations of South Asia in the Contemporaray Fiction of Home and Diasporic South Asian Women Writers. Modern Asian studies, 39(1), 237-256. doi:10.1017/S0026749X0400143X

Lau, L. (2009). Re-Orientalism: The Perpetration and Development of Orientalism by Orientals. Modern Asian Studies, 43(2), 571-590. doi:10.1017/S0026749X07003058

Lau, L., & Mendes, C. (2011). Inroducing re-Orientalism: A new manifestation of Orientalism. In L. Lau, & C. Mendes (Eds.), Re-Orientalism and South Asian Identity Politics: The Oriental Other Within (pp. 1-14). New York: Routledge.

Noor, R. (2004). Review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. World Literature Today, 78(3/4), 148-148. Retrieved March 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.2307/40158636

Rita, J. (2004). Nations and Alienations: Diaspora in Recent Indian Fiction. India International Centre Quarterly, 31(1), 83-93. Retrieved April 9, 2024, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23005914

Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.

Downloads

Published

04/15/2024

How to Cite

Sohail, S., & Ayesha Siddiqa. (2024). Re-presenting the Orient: A Re-Orientalist Study of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (2003). University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 8(I), 216-222. https://jll.uoch.edu.pk/index.php/jll/article/view/282

Similar Articles

1-10 of 20

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

<< < 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 > >>