Khaled Hosseini — the international best-selling author who began his life just as a young boy flying kites in Kabul, Afghanistan — will visit Penn State tonight to answer audience questions about his journey as a man and a writer.
The novelist behind “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” will speak at 8 p.m. tonight in the Eisenhower Auditorium as the first speaker in this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS), sponsored by the Student Programming Association (SPA).
According to the author’s website, Hosseini was born in Kabul in 1965 and lived there until 1976 when the Afghan Foreign Ministry relocated his family to Paris. He eventually moved to the United States, went to medical school and became a physician.
While practicing medicine, Hosseini wrote his first novel, which eventually became an international best-seller and has been published in 48 countries.
DSS chairwoman Emily McConnell said SPA has been trying to book the author for a couple of years and it was sheer luck he had an opening this fall.
“We think he’ll have a really great message that will be really different from other speakers in the past,” McConnell (junior-economics) said. “There is more of a global focus. [Afghanistan] is an area of the world that is so relevant today.”
Different from all other speakers in the past, Hosseini’s presentation will be entirely in a question-and-answer format, McConnell said.
Up until last Friday, students could e-mail in questions they had for Hosseini, which a moderator will ask the author during the first half of his presentation. After the moderator has asked all those questions, audience members can approach the microphone and ask Hosseini any other question they may have.
Muslim Student Association (MSA) Vice President Shawn Munir, said that though he is not much of a reader, he is a fan of “The Kite Runner” and will be attending Hosseini’s lecture.
Munir’s father was born in Pakistan and told his son stories about flying kites through the streets when he was a boy — similar to Amir, the main character in the “Kite Runner” who flies kites with his best friend and servant, Hassan.
The character Amir, like Hosseini, has a wealthy and mostly peaceful life in Afghanistan until the Soviets invade his country and his life is forever changed.
“The book is told from a civilian perspective,” Munir (junior-energy engineering) said. “It showed how the country changed right before his eyes.”
Munir said he thinks the novel’s popularity has helped clear up some people’s misconceptions about the Middle East.
“Most of what people know about Afghanistan is what they see in the news. They think that it has always been this war-torn supremacist society,” Munir said. “But before then it was a pretty neat place. It had its glory day.”
The novel is popular among students on campus, and many agree it has opened their eyes to a different side of Afghanistan.
“You think of Afghanistan at times as this foreign place, but [the book] brought it closer to home because you see what the people there have gone through,” Katie Lally (sophomore-finance) said, who will also be going to the Hosseini event.