Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini: 'So it was really kind of a novel idea for me'

"Libraries are places that promote social discourse, that promote social justice, places that promote free thought, curiosity in children."

So I went to bookstores to be around shelves of books and spend time in their company, but I discovered libraries in France, when I moved there in 1976.

And I remember walking into one the first time and just kind of being in disbelief that I could walk out with a book without having to pay for it. I could borrow it and readit...and then I could come back and get another one. So it was really kind of a novel idea for me and I was like a kid...a proverbial kid in a candy store, because I read so many books growing up.

I love books. I love being around them and so my first experience with libraries was actually in France and I've loved them since.

Well, now I'm a parent so I take my children to the library and, you know, we'll lounge around and read, we'll get on the computer, we'll browse.

I spent part of the writing process of my first book in the library. I was in Sunnyvale, Northern California, and I went there to just get a booth and sit down and work on "The Kite Runners." Part of that book was written in a public library.

When I was in full practice as a physician, I went to the library every single day that I worked. I spent my lunch hour across the street at the Mountainview Public Library. I was...it beat the conference room in the medical clinic, so I ate lunch then I walked across th street, went to the library, went upstairs, read books, newspapers, and just kind of sat in a lovely space. So it's an integral part of my life and I want it to become a part of my children's lives. I do want them to see the library as a shared communal space where they can go and be safe and enjoy books.

Well, I think...communities that don't have libraries, communities that limit their libraries end up suffering as a result. Libraries are very special places. They're sort of the ultimate egalitarian institution. People from all walks of life, all socioeconomic backgrounds can come and use the library is a place to learn, as a place for information, for education for opportunity.

You know, libraries are more than just a place where you can go and check out a book.They're places that promote social discourse, that promote social justice, places that promote free thought, curiosity in children. They're often at the front line of identifying a community's problems and its needs. So, you know, they're...it's really difficult to overstate the value of a library to a community.

[On censorship]

Well, my first novel,"The Kite Runner," has found itself as frequently appearing on the banned books list and frankly, it's something that's always perplexed and puzzled me. I'm never really quite sure what children are supposedly being protected from, because by now I have received thousands and thousands of letters from both middle school and high school students, children who...kids who read the book, either at home for themselves or in classrooms and, I think, judging on the content of those letters they're far, far more sophisticated than we give them credit for.

They get the context. They get the reasons why certain scenes are put in.They really understand that and they articulate that to me. I feel that,far more harmful to kids is so much of the pop culture that they're exposed to through television,through the Internet. Things that promote seeking fame, seeking money and being popular... whereas the kids who've read my books, for example, "The Kite Runner," frequently tell me that it was the bookthat set them on the path to reading more and that they've decided that they actually like books after they read"The Kite Runner," and yeah, there are things in the book that are of a serious nature, but I feel that kids have the intellectual capacity to deal with those things.

Ultimately, the decision does lie with the parents, not all kids are the same. So it's a conversation that parents need to have with their kids when they're reading a book like "The Kite Runner."  But I think to flat out ban it is doing the kids a disservice, because the book has served as a window into Afghanistan, as a window into that regional of the world for the kids and allowed them to feel connected to a part of the world that is so distant from their own lives.

[America's libraries play a vital role in connecting readers and authors--encouraging literacy, discovery and exploration of different topics and genres. As books are increasingly made available in digital form, libraries are continuing to do this via ebooks. Do you have thoughts on this transition or how libraries and authors might create new connections with readers in the digital age?]

Well, I think that's something that we're going to see happen in the future. I think right now publishers are experiencing an upheaval in their usual business practices and everybody is trying to understand, really, the full impact of the electronic revolution on the publishing industry including publishers,authors, and to some extent, libraries, as well.

I think the dialogue between publishers and libraries on the availability of e-books will continue. My guess is that at some point e-books will become available to libraries, electronic content will be available to library patrons. I think, ultimately, that's for the bestfor both publishers and readers and in line with the core missionof libraries.

I'm currently working on finishing mybook tour, which I'm actually almost done with. I'll be done tomorrow, but I plan on settling down when I get home and think of a new book. But right now I haven't started working on anything. 

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Book Title: 

The Kite Runner

Library Name: 

Sunnyvale (Calif.) Public Library