The narrator, spends his early childhood in Afghanistan. He comes from an affluent family, yet nevertheless, has a close bond with Hassan, his father's servant's son. They are in many respects like brothers, but the divide is that Hassan is a Hazara, an 'inferior' caste and also a servant.
Hassan, although uneducated, has insight, integrity and loyalty that make him the character that the reader loves. The narrator, unlike Hassan, has glaring weaknesses and is indirectly responsible for Hassan's demise. It is on this that the remainder of the novel concentrates.
The narrator and his father run away to America, to escape the unstable, dangerous regime. Here, after many years, the narrator reluctantly decides to return to Afghanistan to make amends for how he wronged Hassan. Can he finally be redeemed and be free of the guilt he had tried to bury for so many years?
This novel is beautifully written, making it compulsive reading. It focuses not only on the relationship between the two young boys, but also on the relationship between father and son and husband and wife.
The horrifying depiction of the cruelty of the Taliban in the second part of the novel is disturbing. The constant political turbulence of this beautiful country has been conveyed powerfully from start to finish, showing how a wonderful country can be destroyed.
The revelation of hidden secrets of the past is the 'twist in the tale'. Nothing prepares the reader for this - and then everything falls into place.
This is definitely the best novel that I have read for many years and it has now been made into a film. I would recommend this to any disconcerting reader and add - once read, never forgotten.