This epic novel is set in Afghanistan, beginning in the days of the monarchy and reaching to the early 21st century. Amir is the son of a wealthy man; his best friend is Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Growing up in Kabul, the two share an idyllic childhood until a traumatic event--and Amir's act of cowardly betrayal--changes the nature of their friendship. Amir, who ends up in America, is tortured by his betrayal of Hassan, and he finds himself compelled to return, years later, to a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan to make amends. THE KITE RUNNER, written by an Afghani--now a physician--whose family found asylum in the U.S. in 1980--personalizes the conflicts in Afghanistan and the US involvement there. A debut novel, it was hailed by critics for its poetic prose and vivid characters.