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Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. After the Soviet invasion his family were granted asylum in the US, where he qualified as a doctor and practised until 2004. His debut novel The Kite Runner (2003) and its follow-up A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) were international best-sellers. He lives in California.
Who is your perfect reader?
My wife, because she’s also my editor at home. She’s a very astute reader and very smart.
Which books are on your bedside table?
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, about the Colombian drug wars, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
When did you know you were going to be a writer?
I had written all my life but with no intention of being a writer. It was always for pleasure. I only became “a writer” after my first novel was published and I had the chance to step away from medicine.
What is your daily writing routine?
I take the kids to school and then I write until 2pm. I usually spend the first half an hour editing what I’ve written the day before.
Where do you write best?
In a little room at home that I’ve turned into an office. I write two or three pages a day. My greatest nemesis is the internet – it’s what Scotch used to be to writers in the 1930s.
What do you snack on while you write?
I drink a lot of coffee. I like fruit, too, and black liquorice.
Who are your literary influences?
The Persian poets I grew up with and Ferdowsi’s 11th-century [epic poem] The Book of Kings.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
The Prophet Mohammed. There is so much controversy about who he was and his life. I would love to have a sense of what he was like as a human being.
What are you scared of?
Chickens. It goes back to my childhood in Afghanistan, where I saw cockfights. They were brutal, and I think they scarred me.
When do you feel most free?
I take my son to football games. It’s my favourite thing in the world to toss a ball about with him and see a game.
How do you relax?
I play poker with my brother and some friends, and I watch sport with them. I also read and play tennis.
What are you most proud of writing?
My third book [And the Mountains Echoed]. Writing books gets harder and harder. The first time there’s nothing really at stake – no contract, no public waiting. The second time there’s the weight of the first book, and so it goes on.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Home. I’m a homebody. I like to travel but I get restless after two or three weeks.
Can you remember the first novel you read?
I used to read classics condensed for young adults and translated into Persian. It was Alice in Wonderland, which I read in Farsi in 1979. Either that or [Jack London’s] White Fang.
What does it mean to be a writer?
I could get really precious here but I won’t. When I write books I write them for me – an audience of one. I’m telling myself a story, solving a riddle for myself, like it’s a stone in my shoe. It’s a self-educational process.
Khaled Hosseini’s latest novel is ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ (Bloomsbury)
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