Burnt Shadows (Paperback)
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Winter 2011 Reading Group List
“This is an incredible, epic novel straddling the time of the bomb dropping on Nagasaki in 1945 to New York of 2004. Hiroko, forever marked by the image of cranes burned into her back from the bomb blast, loses her first love and then finds another. She becomes a Pakistani, raises a beloved son, learns and loves many languages, and tries to make sense of the clash of cultures and loyalties that face her and her beloveds at every turn. Shamsie expertly depicts people acting out of their deepest love and conviction and finding themselves facing morally complex choices, the results of which are both magnificent and devastating. This novel is perfect!”
— Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
An Orange Prize Finalist
Nagasaki, August 9, 1945. Hiroko Tanaka watches her lover from the veranda as he leaves. Sunlight streams across Urakami Valley, and then the world goes white.
In the devastating aftermath of the atomic bomb, Hiroko leaves Japan in search of new beginnings. From Delhi, amid India's cry for independence from British colonial rule, to New York City in the immediate wake of 9/11, to the novel's astonishing climax in Afghanistan, a violent history casts its shadow the entire world over. Sweeping in its scope and mesmerizing in its evocation of time and place, this is a tale of love and war, of three generations, and three world-changing historic events. Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows is a story for our time by "a writer of immense ambition and strength. . . . This is an absorbing novel that commands in the reader a powerful emotional and intellectual response" (Salman Rushdie).
About the Author
KAMILA SHAMSIE was born in 1973 in Karachi. She has studied and taught in the USA. Two of her previous novels, Kartography and Broken Verses, have won awards from Pakistan's Academy of Letters. She writes for The Guardian (UK) and frequently broadcasts on the BBC.
"Burnt Shadows is one of the most remarkable novels I have read in recent years -- a tour de force of vision, sympathy, language. Kamila Shamsie's subject is brilliantly timely in our era or 'globalization'--at the same time a riveting family saga in which the very concept 'family' is ambitiously and imaginatively examined."--Joyce Carol Oates
"Completely authentic, complex, and breath-stopping."--Emma Thompson
"The most ambitious novel yet by this talented writer. In Burnt Shadows, Kamila Samsie casts her imagination remarkably far and wide, through time and across continents."--Mohsin Hamid
"Kamila Shamsie is a writer of immense ambition and strength. She understands a great deal about the ways in which the world's many tragedies and histories shape one another, and about how human beings can try to avoid being crushed by their fate and can discover their humanity, even in the fiercest combat zones of the age. Burnt Shadows is an absorbing novel that commands, in the reader, a powerful emotional and intellectual response."--Salman Rushdie
"Ambitious . . . Shamsie's deft touch . . . delicately builds the momentums of everyday life against the insidiously political situation of the time. . . . A tribute to Shamsie's skills." --Chicago Sun-Times
"Burnt Shadows is audacious in its ambition, epic in its scope. A startling expansion of the author's intentions, imagination and craftsmanship. One can only admire the huge advances she has made, and helped us to make, in understanding the new global tensions."--Anita Desai
"One of the finest writers at work anywhere, period . . . A great, absorbing novel, one that will be with us a long time."--Rick Simonson, Elliot Bay Book Company
"Kamila Shamsie opens a vista onto the century we have just lived through--pointing out its terror and its solace. She is so extraordinary a writer that she also offers hints about the century we are living through--the dark corners that contain challenges, as well as the paths that lead to beauty's lair."--Nadeem Aslam, author of Maps for Lost Lovers