There are so many books that I could recommend to someone who is ignorant, close-minded or racist, or all three, that at first I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. But, as on the previous fifteen days, after sitting in front of my bookcases a little while I found one book stuck out more than the others, and I’m not entirely sure if it is one most people would think of for this topic or not.
The book I have chosen for this is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The novel tells the story of Amir, who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan, and his friend Hassan, who is servant to his father, and who is a Hazara boy – a different race to that which Amir belongs. Despite this, the boys are best friends, but a tragic incident ends up shattering both their lives, with repercussions to last well into adulthood. The story is set against the tragic recent history of Afghanistan, from the end of the monarchy and invasion of Soviet forces, to the exodus of refugees to Pakistan, and finally the rise of the Taliban, who initially were seen as heroes for kicking out the Russians, before the people of Afghanistan came to view the situation otherwise.
The reason I have chosen this book is quite simple, I feel. When it comes to racism, or any kind of negative stereotyping and opinions of people, it tends to stem from a lack of knowledge about those people. The sort of people who are ignorant and racist usually are ill-informed, taking what little information they do have from dodgy news and current affairs programs, and believing what they hear without questioning it on any level. Consequently, a good way to open up the minds of those who think this way is to expose them to these cultures and different ways of living, to show them life from an entirely different perspective, so they have a more balanced set of information from which they can empathise and sympathise. What I loved about The Kite Runner is that it paints so beautifully the horror that the people of Afghanistan have been subjected to over the last few decades; it shows a human side to the story of this country that the media has failed to display, especially since September 11. I have heard so many people make horrible comments about people from this part of the world, and I think if they knew the truth of it, they wouldn’t dare utter such nonsense.
Are there any books you think you would recommend to somebody who comes across as ignorant or close-minded, or who is racist or even sexist for that matter?