Khaled Hosseini King of Book Groups

Posted on August 18, 2008

Khaled Hosseini is now the king of book groups. His book, The Kite Runner has been chosen as the book of choice for reading groups in Britain. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns came in second. More than 100 reading groups voted for their favorite books.

Other titles selected by reading groups, who placed their votes via the Penguin and Orange websites and by entering themselves for the Penguin/Orange Broadband Readers' Group Prize, include former Orange and Booker Prize winners, older titles such as Barbara Kingsolver's tale of a missionary who takes his family to live in the Congo, The Poisonwood Bible, and bestsellers including Victoria Hislop's The Island.

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Hosseini's editor at Bloomsbury, Alexandra Pringle, believes he is popular with reading groups for opening a door into a different culture. "We are bombarded in the news with Afghanistan so to be taken by the hand into that country and to meet the people through the joy of reading a novel is a really remarkable thing. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun does that too - you feel you've been absolutely changed, that your understanding of the world has been significantly enhanced, and not through reading a dry history book. There's a huge appetite for that, and I think Khaled is the strongest at providing it."

Hosseini said he was "deeply grateful" to reading groups for embracing The Kite Runner, which has now sold more than two-and-a-half million copies in the UK. "The writing of this book was a labour of love for me. I grew quite attached to the characters and came to care for them in a most personal way," he said. "Sharing this book that means so much to me with readers in the UK has been gratifying to me beyond words."

Book groups are still wildly popular, although we have to wonder sometimes how much actual critical analysis gets done at them. The depth of discussion seems to be inversely proportional to how much wine has been consumed by the group.


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