| ||Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, aims to build bridges to Kabul with new book|
By Vanessa Thorpe
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There are too many myths about Afghanistan, warns writer as he works on his latest novel, And The Mountains Echoed
Six years after his last international bestseller, and as he announces the first British stage adaptation of The Kite Runner, the author and doctor Khaled Hosseini has spoken of his duty to the Afghan people – and revealed he has finished a third novel.
Hosseini, who was born in Kabul but trained as a doctor in the United States and worked in a Los Angeles hospital until 2005, said he wanted to build a human connection between the Afghan people and the west, and to avoid the romanticism that can put a distance between cultures.
"There are still myths about Afghanistan in the west, such as that the country is stuck in the 12th century. There is an element of romanticism too, as well as the idea that Afghans hate the west," said Hosseini, speaking from his home in California this weekend. "People there have grievances, of course, about the night raids and civilian casualties. It is true too that they don't like having troops on their soil, but they have done the calculation and decided there is good reason for it. They don't see it as an occupation."
Hosseini said the Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman theatres had secured the rights to stage the European premiere of Matthew Spangler's award-winning stage adaptation of The Kite Runner, which will open in Nottingham in the spring.
Hosseini's first novel came out in 2003 and has since been published in 70 countries. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan, his father's young Hazara servant. Their story is told against a backdrop of key events, such as the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy, the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees and the rise of the Taliban. His second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, came out in 2007 and also spent many weeks at the top of the bestseller charts. Together, his two novels have sold more than 38 million copies.
Hosseini said his third novel, now in draft form, is called And the Mountains Echoed and is to be published in May. He would not reveal where it was set, but said it was a family saga, dealing with relationships between siblings.
The author, who now works as a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said it was fine for the war to be used in popular entertainment, such as the series Homeland, "as long as it is done in a responsible way" and not simply to provide an edge or to push an agenda. "People do have to be told a story. And people who pick up my books want to be told a story too," he said.