Kite Runner : Biography

Khaled Hosseini was born March 4, 1965, in Kabul Afghanistan, the oldest of five children. His father worked for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, and his mother taught Persian literature and history in an Afghan high school. The family moved around, to Tehran, and then to Paris at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Khaled’s father asked for political asylum in the United States and in 1980 moved to San Jose, California, with his family. Khaled was fifteen and spoke no English. The family subsisted on welfare for a time and by selling goods at a flea market, as Baba and Amir do in The Kite Runner.


In high school while struggling with English, Hosseini discovered John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and was inspired to start writing stories in English. He graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 1984 and from Santa Clara University in 1988 with a degree in biology. He attended medical school at UC San Diego School of Medicine and got his M.D. in 1993. After completing a residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 1996, he practiced internal medicine in California from 1996 to 2004.


He began writing The Kite Runner in March, 2001, rising at 4:00 a.m. to write before seeing patients. Many parts of this first novel, published in 2003, are autobiographical. Like Amir, Hosseini read Persian poetry when young and Persian translations of Western classics. He loved Hindi and American movies and kite fighting. When the Hosseini family lived in Iran, they had a Hazara cook named Hossein Khan, whom the third-grade Khaled taught to read and write. He based some of the Amir-Hassan friendship on his relationship with this servant, from whom he learned about Hazara persecution. He wrote stories in Farsi like the young Amir did. The Kite Runner was a best-selling novel, also produced as an audiobook read by the author, and produced as a film in 2007 in which Hosseini made a cameo appearance.


His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007), is the story of two Afghan women, Miriam and Laila, two wives of the same brutal husband who become best friends over a forty-year period.


Khaled Hosseini lives in Northern California with his wife Roya and two sons. He is a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In addition, he has established the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.