The Villainous East versus the Heroic West: A Postcolonial Analysis of The Kite Runner and its Portrayal of Muslim Afghanistan


  • Homam Altabaa International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
  • Nik Nayly Nik Nubli International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)



The Kite Runner, Orientalism, Edward Said, Orient, Occident, Postcolonialism, Afghanistan, America


The East is often portrayed as dangerous or mysterious in numerous Western literary works that attempt to depict it. As Edward Said has argued, this is due to the Western tendencies to view the East as fundamentally other and inferior. Rather than resisting such preconceived notions, Khaled Hosseini in his novel The Kite Runner (2003) reflected a pro-Western stance through his stereotypical representation of Afghanistan which fits into the expectations of the West, especially after the September 11 attacks. Due to his pro-Western stance, the novel and Hosseini himself gained significant recognition and popularity in the United States. Hence this study aims to examine the Orientalist discourse present in the novel by utilising the theory of Postcolonialism, with a special emphasis on Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism. The analysis focuses on the contrasting portrayal of Afghanistan as the Orient and America as the Occident. The study found that the novel reinforces the idea that the Orient is violent, sexual and backward, while the Occident is depicted as the civilized saviour. Such depictions give a positive view of colonialism and imperialism.

Author Biographies

Homam Altabaa, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

Assistant Professor, International Islamic University Malaysia, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, Gombak Campus 50728 Kuala Lumpur  

Nik Nayly Nik Nubli, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

Researcher, Department of English Language and Literature (DELL), AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHASKIRKHS), International Islamic University Malaysia


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How to Cite

Altabaa, H., & Nik Nubli, N. N. (2022). The Villainous East versus the Heroic West: A Postcolonial Analysis of The Kite Runner and its Portrayal of Muslim Afghanistan . Journal of Islam in Asia (E-ISSN 2289-8077), 19(2), 347–379.



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