Khaled Hosseini

1000ss-khHaving read and enjoyed both The Kite Runner &  Thousand Splendid Sons, I thought I would blog about Afghan-born American novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini who was born this date March 4, 1965. He is a citizen of the United States where he has lived since he was fifteen years old. His 2003 debut novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, with the paperback spending 101 weeks on the bestseller list In 2007, it was followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns which has spent 21 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperback fiction and 49 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction (#1 for 15 of those weeks). The two novels have sold more than 38 million copies internationally.  Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1970 Hosseini and his family moved to Iran where his father worked for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran. In 1973 Hosseini’s family returned to Kabul, and Hosseini’s youngest brother was born in July of that year.In 1976, when Hosseini was 11 years old, Hosseini’s father obtained a job in Paris, France, and moved the family there. They were unable to return to Afghanistan because of the Saur Revolution in which the PDPA communist party seized power through a bloody coup in April 1978. Instead, a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in 1980 they sought political asylum in the United States and made their residence in San Jose, California.Hosseini graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1993. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 1996.

Hosseini practiced medicine for over ten years, until a year and a half after the release of his first novel The Kite Runner which was released in 2003 and is the the story of a young boy, Amir, struggling to establish a closer rapport with his father and coping with memories of a haunting childhood event. The novel is set in Afghanistan, from the fall of the monarchy until the collapse of the Taliban regime, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in Fremont, California. Its many themes include ethnic tensions between the Hazara and the Pashtun in Afghanistan, and the immigrant experiences of Amir and his father in the United States. The novel was the number three best seller for 2005 in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan. The Kite Runner was also produced as an audiobook read by the author. The Kite Runner has been adapted into a film of the same name released in December, 2007. Hosseini made a cameo appearance towards the end of the movie as a bystander when Amir buys a kite which he later flies with Sohrab.

Hosseini’s second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was published in 2007, and is also set in Afghanistan. The story addresses many of the same issues as Hosseini’s first, but takes a more feminine perspective. It follows the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become entwined. The story is set during Afghanistan’s tumultuous thirty-year transition from Soviet occupation to Taliban control and post-Taliban rebuilding. The novel was released by Riverhead Books on May 22, 2007, at the same time as the Simon & Schuster audiobook. Movie rights have been acquired by producer Scott Rudin and Columbia Pictures.[On October 29, 2012, Riverhead Books confirmed that Hosseini’s third novel And the Mountains Echoed would be released on May 21, 2013. Hosseini said, “I am forever drawn to family as a recurring central theme of my writing. My earlier novels were at heart tales of fatherhood and motherhood. My new novel is a multi-generational family story as well, this time revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for each other. I am thrilled at the chance to share this book with my readers  Hosseini is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for which was inspired by the trip to Afghanistan that Hosseini made in 2007 with UNHCR.

Gravity

imageGravity won 7 Oscars at this years Academy Awards including Best Director For Alphonso Cuaron. and is released on DVD Monday 3 March 2014. It stars Sandra Bullock, as Bio-medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone, a Mission Specialist on her first space shuttle mission, STS-157, who is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is commanding his final expedition, to service the Hubble Telescope. However during the final spacewalk Mission Control in Houston warns Stone and Kowalski that a field of Debris from a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite is hurtling rapidly towards the Space Shuttle at high speed and they must abort the mission.  Shortly afterward, communications from Mission Control are lost, though Stone and Kowalski continue to transmit in hopes that the ground crew can hear them. Then when High-speed debris damages the space shuttle Explorer Stone tumbles out of control away from it. Kowalski rescues Stone and Tethered together, the two make their way back to Explorer, which they discover has been damaged far beyond usability, and the rest of the crew are dead. So They decide to  try and make their way to the International Space Station (ISS), which is in orbit only about 100 km (60 mi) away. But this is fraught with danger and Kowalski estimates they only have 90 minutes before the debris field completes an orbit and threatens them again and they face both a race against time to find safety nearly 400 miles above the Earth, with no one to help…

Te film was directed by Oscar Winning Director Alphonso Cuarón, cinematography was by Emmanuel Lubezki and visual-effects were by effects wizard Tim Webber . The script, is by Cuarón and his son Jonás.This movie offers thrills, humor, dazzle, disaster, poetic vision and mythic reach. Whereas Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey set the bar for philosophical exploration of an unknowable universe by gazing outward. With deceptive simplicity, Gravity looks inward at something closer at hand but just as profound: the intricacies of the human heart. Cuarón’s artistry is also evident in films as diverse as Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the third and best of the Potter series) and Children of Men.

Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences Award winners (Oscars)

  •  Best Picture  12 Years A Slave – WINNER
  • Best Actor In A Leading Role  Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER
  •   Best Actress In A Leading Role  Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine – WINNER
  • Best Supporting Actor  Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER
  • Best Supporting Actress  Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave – WINNER
  • Best Director  Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Costume Design  The Great Gatsby – WINNER
  • Best Make-Up & Hairstyling  Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER
  • Best Short Film – Animated  Mr Hublot – WINNER
  • Best Animated Feature Film  Frozen – WINNER
  • Best Short Film – Live Action  Helium – WINNER
  • Best Documentary Short Subject  The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – WINNER
  • Best Documentary Feature  20 Feet from Stardom – WINNER  
  • Best Foreign Language Film  The Great Beauty (Italy) – WINNER
  • Best Sound Mixing  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Sound Editing  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Visual Effects  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Cinematography  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Film Editing  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Production Design  The Great Gatsby – WINNER
  • Best Original Score  Gravity – WINNER
  • Best Original Song  “Let It Go” – Frozen – WINNER
  • Best Adapted Screenplay  John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave – WINNER
  • Best Original Screenplay  Spike Jonze – Her – WINNER

LNER 4468 Mallard

LNER 4468 4-6-2 Paciflc class locomotive Mallard was built at Doncaster, England 3 March 1938. While in other respects a relatively typical member of its class, it is historically significant for being the holder of the official world speed record for steam locomotives. Mallard was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as an express locomotive to power high-speed streamlined trains. Its wind-tunnel-tested, aerodynamic body and high power allowed it to reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), though in everyday service it was relatively uncommon for any steam hauled service to reach even 90mph, much less 100.  1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials   In 1948, shortly after the formation of British Railways, the decision was taken to test locomotives from all of the former ‘Big Four’ companies to find the best attributes of speed, power and efficiency with coal and water. There were two ways of testing and comparing locomotives: either at the Rugby Locomotive testing plant, which was not ready until late 1948 or by testing in the field itself. The results of these trials would be used to help design the British Railways Standard design of locomotives.   The express passenger locomotive designs which would be compared were: London Midland Region (former LMS) Princess Coronation class, Eastern Region (former LNER) Class A4, Southern Region (former Southern) Merchant Navy class and Western Region (former GWR) 6000 Class or King class. Three Gresley A4 locomotives were chosen to represent the Eastern Region: E22 Mallard, 60033 Seagull and 60034 Lord Faringdon.

MALLARD4468

All of the locomotives had the Kylchap double blastpipe chimney arrangement and were fresh from Doncaster works. Mallard had emerged from Doncaster with a fresh coat of post-war garter blue livery, stainless steel numbers 22 with a small ‘E’ painted above them (for Eastern region), new boiler (her fourth) and third tender of her career.   E22 Mallard was used on 8 June 1948 on the Waterloo-Exeter route. Driver Marrable took the famous A4 with a load of 481 tons tare, 505 tons full, the same that had been used on the previous trip by 35018 British India Line. Mallard got through Clapham Junction in 6 minutes 57 seconds, Woking in 28 minutes 47 seconds. At Hook there were adverse signals, causing Mallard to slow to a crawl. Even so, Salisbury was reached in 108 minutes and 28 seconds. Despite the signals earlier, the train was only 5-and-a-half minutes late. The net time was 95.5 minutes.   Mallard failed after this trial and 60033 Seagull took over. 10 June saw Seagull achieve the run in 96 minutes 22 seconds, but had departed 3 minutes late, meaning Seagull had arrived with the same load 3.5 minutes early. For Mallard, the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials were over, but Mallard was to return to the Waterloo-Exeter line for a Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) railtour in 24 February 1963 after wch it was retired, having covered almost one and a half million miles (2.4 million km).  It was restored to working order in the 1980s, and as  some specials between York and Scarborough in July 1986 and a couple of runs between York and Harrogate/Leeds around Easter 1987. Mallard is now part of the National Collection at the United Kingdom’s National Railway Museum in York. On the weekend of 5 July 2008, Mallard was taken outside for the first time in years and displayed alongside her A4 sisters, thus reuniting all four A4s extant in the UK for the first time since preservation. She departed the museum for Locomotion, the NRM’s outbase at Shildon on the 23 June 2010, where she was a static exhibit, until she was hauled back to York on 19 July 2011 and put back on display in its original location in the Great Hall.