It has topped the prestigious New York Times Bestseller List and received stellar reviews from major newspaper and media outlets across the country.

The power of its story has earned it merit as one of the Top 10 books for campus reading by the New York Times.

Those, says Marilyn Kurata, director of core curricular enhancement, are but some of the reasons that make Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner the perfect choice to be this year’s UAB Discussion Book.

“This selection is most significant,” Kurata says, “because of the universality of the book’s themes.”

Set in Afghanistan,  The Kite Runner spans from before the 1979 Soviet invasion until the reconstruction following the fall of the Taliban. The novel tells the story of a young boy named Amir who betrays his servant and best friend Hassan. When the Russians come, Amir and his father are granted asylum in the United States, where Amir becomes a successful writer. But when Amir learns that his childhood friend is ailing back home, he returns to find his relationship with Hassan was stronger than he realized. This realization leads Amir on a perilous journey to rescue and adopt Hassan’s son after his father was executed by the Taliban.

UAB President Carol Garrison praised the selection of Hosseini’s epic tale as the 2006-2007 book of choice.

“The goal of the Discussion Book project, which was developed as part of UAB’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is to unite the UAB community by promoting civic involvement and the practice of open, safe, respectful dialogue about often controversial issues,” says Garrison.

The Kite Runner is an excellent choice for our second year of this initiative because it takes important events from a different culture and presents them through the eyes and experiences of community, family and friends, which are common elements in every culture.

“Reading The Kite Runner together as a UAB community should foster even more of the cross-campus dialogue about diversity that the Discussion Book initiative has already generated, which is a key objective of the QEP,” Garrison says. “We’re also looking forward to having more involvement from the greater Birmingham community this year, with different civic and book clubs already planning to read The Kite Runner along with us.”

Kurata says there has already been an impressive response from faculty and staff to lead this year’s freshman discussion groups, which will be conducted Monday, Aug. 21. (For those interested in leading discussion groups, there will be two facilitator-training sessions. The first will be Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. in Hill University Center Room 514; the second, Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. in Education Building Room 127.)

In addition to the discussion groups, numerous activities also are being planned for the fall semester. Two major community organizations — McWane Center and the Birmingham Museum of Art — are developing events in support of the Discussion Book. College Night at the Birmingham Museum of Art has already been scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m., and a theater group will be doing a dramatized reading of portions of the novel at a later date.

The New Student Orientation Office will be selling copies of The Kite Runner at cost ($9 per copy) during summer orientation sessions.

The book will be on sale June 15, June 22, July 13, July 20 and Aug. 3 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Hill University Center. The $9 price is offered to faculty, staff and students; cash or checks are the only accepted methods of payment.