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University of Iowa News Release

April 22, 2004

Human Rights Center Tabs ‘Kite Runner’ For Fall Book Project

Residents of Johnson County will gain new perspective on the ongoing war in Afghanistan by participating this fall in the fourth annual Johnson County Reads program, sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR).

The center, in conjunction with representatives from other sponsoring organizations from Iowa City, Coralville and the UI, has selected "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini for its fall 2004 project. The book is an epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes readers from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.

The project will run Sept. 19 through Nov. 13. Teachers, librarians, book groups and others will be encouraged to participate. By announcing the book selection now, the program sponsors hope to allow time for groups to plan to read the book this fall and for teachers to plan lessons around the book.

A story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, "The Kite Runner" describes the rich culture and beauty of a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal and the possibility of redemption. It also demonstrates the power of fathers over sons -- their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The first Afghan novel to be written in English, "The Kite Runner" tells a sweeping story of family, love and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject by capturing the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last 30 years -- from the last days of the monarchy, to the Soviet invasion, and on to the atrocities of the Taliban. "The Kite Runner" invites contemplation of a range of issues, including human rights concerns and aesthetic questions, which will spark lively discussions in a wide array of readers.

The overall goal of the Johnson County Reads project is to encourage people to read the selected book and, through public and private discussion, develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues. Questions will be available online on the UICHR Web site (http://www.uichr.org) at the start of the 2004-2005 academic year. Many public discussions of the book will be scheduled at a number of different locations during the eight-week period.

In addition to The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, other project sponsors are the UI International Writing Program, Prairie Lights Books, Coralville Public Library, The Gazette, Hancher Auditorium, Iowa Book LLC, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Iowa City Public Library, UI Charter Committee on Human Rights, UI International Programs and University Book Store. The West High School Library is also participating.

More information and discussion questions about "The Kite Runner" is available online at http://us.penguingroup.com/static/rguides/us/kite_runner.html. Additional questions should be directed to the project coordinator, Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR Associate Director for Community Affairs mailto:dorothy-paul@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu. Program: Dorothy M. Paul, dorothy-paul@uiowa.edu