Just finished reading his first novel, The Kite Runner. It is a lesson in the art of story-telling. The so called purists may scoff at his rather straightforward style; or his in-the-face, cliched plot movement. But, if one has to go by success and acclaim that a work attracts, Khalid is indeed, a master. I am not going to do a review here but I am thinking aloud why his first novel was such a huge success.
1) The human brain loves patterns. That’s why it applauds a clearly defined canvas I guess. A framework if you will. Hassan is hair-lipped and towards the end a similar fate almost embraces Amir. Hassan saves Amir with his sling-shot. In the end, Hassan’s son Sohrab saves Amir with his sling-shot. Asef, the bully from childhood is a full-fledged bully towards the end of the story. Hassan was the kite runner and ensures that Amir wins the kite competition (which is when fate plays a cruel joke and Amir, being the coward that he is, walks away instead of saving his friend.) Amir becomes the kite runner for Sohrab at the end of the story. I can go on but you get the point. See how the whole story is a pattern of sub-patterns; cyclical like life and time. The closer your story is to the ‘nature’ of life and time (cyclical for one) the better the chances for it to strike a chord with the audience.
2) The Ah effect: Human brain loves discovery. For example, ‘blood is everything’ says Amir’s father-in-law when Amir and Suraya bring up the topic of adopting a kid. Amir actually agrees with him and gives up the adoption idea. See how Khalid justifies Amir taking the huge risk of going to Kabul (an American living in USA for 20 years, goes to Kabul. And why? Redemption.) That’s when you say ‘ah! but of course!’ And your brain resolves the character with little help from the writer. To simplify it, there are at least a dozen Sixth Sense movies in the novel.
3) A great story teller is beyond the clutches of medium and format. If you lay out your story well, it sells itself to other media and formats. Don’t believe me? Check this out.