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'I began to notice people reading it'

16 June 2014

‘After publication, nothing much happened for over a year. I didn't have much hope. Then I began to notice people reading it - even on aeroplanes when I was travelling. It was everywhere, it was surreal. I was proud of it yet it was so dark and its central character so spineless and set in a country people in the US knew little about... I didn't think this was what bestsellers were about...

Structure is the most difficult decision, a deciding factor. My books never go where I think they're going. This one is like an oak tree: a big trunk with stories branching out. The easier something seems to read, the harder it is to write...

In my 20s, life seemed endless. At 49, I've had a chance to see how dark life can be and I am far more aware of the constraints of time than when I wrote The Kite Runner. I realise there is only a limited number of things I can do.'

Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner, in the Observer