Khaled Hosseini is the bestselling author of The Kite Runner and And the Mountains Echoed. From his Q & A with Kate Kellaway at The New Review:
How important a role does storytelling play in your life?The Kite Runner is one of Roger Moore's six best books.
I used to tell stories to my kids. They are 13 and 11 now, but I used to put them to bed and they loved it when I made up folk tales. I'd make sure there was a cliffhanger every night. It was a powerful tool to get them to clean their teeth and go to bed. I improvised every night and loved it. My grandmother and father were gifted storytellers. The opening fable in And the Mountains Echoed – although I made it up – pays homage to the stories I heard growing up. It may be the blinding light of nostalgia but there used, I think, to be more appetite in those days – and longer attentions spans – for sitting down to a story.
When did your family leave Afghanistan for the US?
We left Kabul in 1976. My father had a diplomatic post in Paris. After the Soviet invasion, we applied for political asylum in the US. It was 1980, I was 15. For my parents, who had always been on the giving side of things, it was an affront to live on state benefit – charity. My dad found work as a driving instructor, my mother [formerly a teacher] as a waitress and then a beautician – she learned to cut hair and worked in a salon for two decades. My father, ironically, later became...[read on]