The Taliban's acts of cultural vandalism - the most infamous being the destruction of the giant Bamiyan Buddhas - had a devastating effect on Afghan culture and the artistic scene. The Taliban burned countless films, VCRs, music tapes, books, and paintings. They jailed filmmakers, musicians, painters, and sculptors.
I have a particular disdain for Islamic extremism, and of course, in both 'The Kite Runner' and 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' that's obvious.
I'm a pretty uncomplicated person. I live a very simple life with my family and I enjoy very ordinary things.
I remember reading 'The Grapes of Wrath' in high school in 1983. My family had immigrated to the U.S. three years before, and I had spent the better part of the first two years learning English. John Steinbeck's book was the first book I read in English where I had an 'Aha!' moment, namely in the famed turtle chapter.
I will say that there is an inordinate amount of medicine in my novels, especially the first one. There are a lot of medical things that happen. A hip fracture, three different kinds of lung cancer, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and so on.
When I go to Afghanistan, I realize I've been spared, due to a random genetic lottery, by being born to people who had the means to get out. Every time I go to Afghanistan I am haunted by that.
Life just doesn't care about our aspirations, or sadness. It's often random, and it's often stupid and it's often completely unexpected, and the closures and the epiphanies and revelations we end up receiving from life, begrudgingly, rarely turn out to be the ones we thought.
In Afghanistan, you don't understand yourself solely as an individual. You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a cousin to somebody, an uncle to somebody. You are part of something bigger than yourself.
In many parts of the world, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. But I think we need women to solve the problems that men create.
People find meaning and redemption in the most unusual human connections.
I don't think she is underappreciated, certainly not among writers, but Alice Munro is the classic underappreciated writer among readers. It is almost a cliche now to wonder why this living legend is not more widely read.
My books are love stories at core, really. But I am interested in manifestations of love beyond the traditional romantic notion. In fact, I seem not particularly inclined to write romantic love as a narrative motive or as an easy source of happiness for my characters.
The experience of writing 'The Kite Runner' is one I will always think back on with fondness. There is an energy, a romance in writing the first novel that can never be duplicated again.
I am always revolted when Islamic leaders, from Afghanistan or elsewhere, deny the very existence of female oppression, avoid the issue by pointing to examples of what they view as Western mistreatment of women, or even worse, justify the oppression of women on the basis of notions derived from Sharia law.
I spent a lot of winters in my childhood flying kites with my brother, with my cousins, with friends in the neighborhood. It's what we did in the winter. Schools close down. There was not much to do.
Everyone is an ocean inside. Every individual walking the street. Everyone is a universe of thoughts, and insights, and feelings. But every person is crippled in his or her own way by our inability to truly present ourselves to the world.
Nothing happens in a vacuum in life: every action has a series of consequences, and sometimes it takes a long time to fully understand the consequences of our actions.
Afghanistan is a rural nation, where 85 percent of people live in the countryside. And out there it's very, very conservative, very tribal - almost medieval.
I've been told, and I think I recognize it, that there's a cinematic quality to my writing, with a sense of image and place and scene - and, some would say, my tendency to finish my books the way Hollywood finishes its films.
Writing for me is largely about rewriting.