I’ve read the book twice – enjoying it more the second time around (some 15 months ago).  Not the height of literary fiction,  I’m convinced the originality of its material, the focus on Afghanistani issues, accounts for its popularity.  Certainly the sections in America are too sentimental and compare poorly to other novels that have dealt with similar issues.  (Andre Dubus III’s House of Sand and Fog for example.)  Still it’s a reasonable read.

There is one scene, however, that my book group decided would have made a perfect but tragic ending.   It would have been simply hardyesque.  (Think Jude the Obscure.) 

The scene and the problems preceding it are simply skipped in the screenplay.  Perfectly reasonable.  There’s no way the film could have retained its 12A rating.  

Judging from the way my friend to the right (the one who had read the book) was flinching knowing what was to come, and the way my friend on the left (the one who hadn’t read the book) was looking at the screen through her fingers, I’d say that the director displayed sound judgment in the treatment of the more violent and controversial material.

My friend on the left (the one who hadn’t read the book) left the cinema commenting on how sad it was.  I wonder what she would have said had that hardyesque scene been included.

The Book  / The Movie  + 1 just for the completely adorable Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada (Hassan as a child).