Burnt Shadows
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Burnt Shadows

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,298 ratings  ·  380 reviews
The morning of August 9, 1945 breaks dreary and unspectacular in the city of Nagasaki. Nonetheless, twenty-one year-old Hiroko Tanaka is elated: she is in love. Her emerging romance with the displaced German Konrad Weiss offers release from the greyness of wartime deprivation. In this time of heightened xenophobia, their affair must be kept secret, particularly as Hiroko’s...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Bond Street Books (first published 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Burnt Shadows, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Burnt Shadows

The Watch by Joydeep Roy-BhattacharyaThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniBurnt Shadows by Kamila ShamsieKhost by Vincent Hobbes
Afghan-fiction
4th out of 46 books — 42 voters
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
319th out of 1,349 books — 6,697 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Barbara
Feb 19, 2010 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Merilee,Maria, Gail
Recommended to Barbara by: Rose O (with gratitude)
Shelves: asia, holocaust-ww-2
"Burnt Shadows" was a gift to me from a friend who valued this book highly. It was a gift for me because it has given me much food for thought. At the outset, I was determined to enjoy this book to share the pleasure with my friend, but as I progressed I could observe why she ranked it so highly.

I will not attempt a summary here. One can easily find that elsewhere. The scope of this novel is huge. It spans about 60 years, from the A- Bomb in Nagasaki, to the partitioning of India and Pakistan,...more
Paul
A novel with great scope ranging over a vast sweep of modern history, written with great warmth and understanding. The characters are well drawn and believable. Characters with flaws, who make mistakes which have consequences, but who are understandable and feel like real people.
The novel is broken up into three sections. The first is in the 1940s; in 1945 Hiroko Tanaka has become engaged to Konrad Weiss, a German living, like her in Nagasaki. He is killed by the atomic bomb and she is injured....more
zhra
منذ زمن لم اعطي 5 نجوم.لكن الرواية تستحق كل الخمسة.فالكاتبة جمعت في ذكاء خيوط احداث العالم منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية حتي بعد 11 سبتمبر بسلاسة جميلة.


هذه الصورة تعبر تعبير تام عن الرواية فهي بكل اناقة اوضحت دور العم سام في مصائب العالم.
تحكي الرواية عن فتاة يابانية نجت من نجازاكي وفقدت فيها كل شيء حتي اجزاء من روحها فقدتها مع اجزاء جلدها المحترقة في هذا الجزء توقفت وبحثت فلم اكن قرأت كثيرا عن نجازاكي و اكثر ما هالني الحجج المغرورة للحكومة الامريكية بكل عجرفة يقولون هذا كان لانقاذ حياة الامر...more
Elizabeth
A twisting yarn of a book that struck me as something written fresh on the heels of 9-11. There were certain elements of the plot that I thought were probably even more impactful for readers who read this book a few years after that horrific event.

Beginning in Nagasaki, Japan, just before the second nuclear bomb drops, the story ventures to India, Turkey, Pakistan, and New York as it follows two families, one of German-English and another Japanese-Pakistani extraction. Lives mirror and intersec...more
Khaled Al Desouky
قوية، رائعة، مؤثرة، مُشوقة الي أبعد درجة
من ناجازاكي الي دلهي الي كراتشي الي نيويورك الي أفغانستان تسافر مع أحداث الكتاب الي تلك الأماكن وتفتقد الأماكن السابقة.. أو لا تفتقدها بالمرة!

هيروكو، سجاد، الزي وجايمس غرباء جدا لكن وقت اللقاء أقرباء بطريقة ساحرة.
مآسي ومآسي ما تتكون منه هذه الرواية... ليس بها لحظات جميلة أو حميمية بالقدر الذي تواجدت فيه الأحداث التراجيدية

هي رواية فيها الكثير من المشاعر المتداخلة -وأيضا اللغات- بين شخصياتها ونتاج حياة أشخاص تؤثر علي الكل سواء داخل الرواية أو خارجها

ونهاية-م...more
Rose
May 19, 2010 Rose rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all my GR friends
A great read! I highly recommend it. You will feel challenged and enlightened, possibly provoked, and undoubtedly enriched.

Beautiful lyrical prose. This book was an Orange Prize finalist.
Annie
This book, from the Orange Prize shortlist, has had terribly mixed reviews. How can a book that tries to tie together the bombing of Nagasaki, the partition of India, the Afghan conflict and 9/11 possibly work? Well, it does - I absolutely loved it. Hiroko is a wonderful character - she lives on the page in a way a character hasn't for me in ages, and she's the anchor that holds this enormous story together. The writing is quite beautiful - some of the imagery will really stay with me, but it re...more
Ruby
I read so much, and so quickly, that it takes a rare exception of a book to send me searching for post-it notes and a pen to write down quotes from the writing. I found the writing in this book so compelling, that I stopped reading everything else for two whole days and just immersed myself in the story of a woman who finds herself in the midst of several acts of war in the lifetime. From Nagasaki where she is scared mentally and physically, to Delhi where she runs with her new husband from the...more
Caroline
I was impressed with the scope of this novel - from Japan to Pakistan to America, and covering about half a century - it touched upon a broad spectrum of cultures, politics and lives, with the twists and turns in the story largely governed by geographic location.

For me it was all about identity, and how a sense of identity can be damaged by the horror of an atomic bomb, or by failing exams, by subterfuge, or by looking different to those around you. But as well as exploring alienation, this boo...more
Ehab El Malah
«الظلال المحترقة» للروائية الباكستانية كاميلا شمسي.. أول رواية تترجم لها إلى اللغة العربية..
رواية بديعة.. هائلة وإنسانية.. تمتد زمانيا لأكثر من نصف القرن.. من نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية عام 1945 وحتى ما بعد أحداث الحادي عشر من سبتمبر 2001.. وتنبسط مكانيا من نجازاكي اليابان مرورا بدلهي الهند وكراتشي باكستان ومعسكرات اللاجئين الأفغان على الحدود الأفغانية الباكستانية وختاما بنيويورك الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية..
"هيروكو" الفتاة اليابانية الرقيقة الناجية من مأساة نجازاكي المروعة.. بحروق بارزة على ظه...more
Hani
http://www.abjjad.com/review/1980235795

لم تأخذ منّي مراجعة كل ذلك الوقت في كتابتها كما فعلت هذه الرواية; كنت أكتب السطر أو السطرين في مسوّدَةٍ خارجية, ثمّ أتريّث. ثم أعود لتعديل ما كتبت و أضيف ما تراءى لي أن أضيفه, ثم أتريّث. و كان حالي ما بين التّريّث و التّريّث الذي يليه كحال من يخشى إفساد العمل دون أن يرجو نجاحه! فسلبُ السّلبِ; إيجاب, كما حدّثونا. حتى استقرّ بي الأمر-بعد عشرة أيام أو تزيد- إلى ما هو مكتوبٌ هنا -على نقصِه و عدم كفايته. و يبقى ماهو منقوشٌ هناك في الذاكرة - ذاكرة العقل و ذاكرة ا...more
Chelsey Clammer
Brilliant. Beautiful. The way that Shamsie deals with trauma, hatred, and racism throughout the novel are astonishing. This book is just so well written--I can't get over it.
Lanew-yorkaise
From http://lanew-yorkaise.com/

Maybe it’s because I spent a good part of my college years studying trauma and how people experience and record it; maybe because World War II and its fallout—both figurative and literal—is a topic I find myself drawn to again and again (my thesis was based on an oral history project I conducted that recorded the stories of college students-turned-soldiers in the ‘40s.) Maybe it’s because the writing is so damn lush, the characters so real. Whatever the reason, Ka...more
Holly
I am absolutely loving this book! Favorite quotes so far:

(On debates regarding the formation of Pakistan) And so it went on and on, and in each group Sajjad found those who made complete sense and in each group also those whose opinions made him want to scatter seeds over the speakers so the pigeons would swoop down and stop their words with a tumult of feathers.

(On the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki) ...he knew by her voice that he was going to hear something that she would sp...more
okyrhoe
I actually enjoyed reading it, and I would recommend it to others. But it failed to 'wow' me....
For some reason the plot seemed a tad too obvious. I could tell more or less what was going to happen, in which direction the scenes were developing. So I was reading at two levels, one to read the plot, and another to sense/study the words on the page. That second aspect however wasn't taking me anywhere. I expected to be engaged by the narrative exposition – looking forward to discover irony, doubl...more
Heather
Hiroko Tanaka's life has been irrevocably marred by the American bombing of Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. Not only did she lose her father, village, and way of life, but also the young German artist Konrad, with whom she was beginning a relationship. After the kimono she was wearing in the blast becomes fused with her skin, she bears scars shaped like birds across her back. It is with these painful scars and memories that she leaves Japan, unable to find her place in society after the war. Hir...more
Chrissie
NO SPOILERS

I finished this last night. Three or four stars? Do I REALLY like it or do I like it. While I was reading it, I REALLY liked it, but with time it is the story that will remain not all the wonderful lines that are so intriguing. I think it will turn into an "I liked it" book. You will thoroughly enjoy the time spent with this book if you enjoyed the quotes below. Don't think three stars means, aacch choose something else. I loved it b/c it was thought provoking. The last third of the b...more
R.f.k
رواية مشحونة بالدراما والعاطفة والحزن ..تبدأ أحداثها من 9 أغسطس 1945 بقنبلة ناجازاكي مرورا بالاحتلال السوفيتي لأفغانستان الى باكستان واحداث مابعد الحادي عشر من سبتمبر وعودة مرة أخرى لأفغانستان هذا البلد الذي قال عنة أحد أبطال الرواية (مات جميع من لك ما عدا واحداً ,ياالله ماذا فعل الافغان لحمل كل هذة الاحزان؟) ...رواية ملحمية أتمنى أن يعمل منها فلم
الترجمة بهذه الرواية مش ولابد..النهاية المفتوحة ماأعجبتني دائما ومازلت أكرة النهايات المفتوحة.
Maria
The novel, which begins slowly (Nagasaki, WW2) somehow becomes so compelling by the middle (India, NY) that I simply could not put it down, and the ending is outstanding (Afghanistan, NY)-- lots of lessons, important ones, effective writing, interesting locales, and the ending is SO good perhaps I should have given this a 5.
Lisa
Burnt Shadows (audio book)Burnt Shadows, by Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie, was nominated for the Orange Prize in 2009. Ambitious in its scope, it is a compelling novel that loses its way at the end.

Capably narrated in this audio book edition by Jane McDowell who only occasionally confuses the multiple accents she has to portray, Burnt Shadows is the story of Hiroko Tanaka, who survives the Nagasaki bomb blast but loses everything she holds dear. This novel vividly portrays the profound bewilde...more
Jennifer Defoy
This is a story that follows Hiroko through her life. The story starts in Japan during WWII and ends in 2002. We follow Hiroko as she loves, loses, and ages. While the events in history play second to the story there are many things that Hiroko deals with: the bombing in Nagasaki, the split of India and Pakistan, 9/11. The characters are well rounded, and as the story jumps from one to the other we really get a sense of who these people are and what emotions they are dealing with. I became conne...more
Blake Fraina
I think it's important to note that the main characters in Kamila Shamsie’s brilliant novel, Burnt Shadows, are Japanese, German and Pakistani Muslims. This is a book that deals with the political tensions between different nations, nationalities and ethnic groups, and within that context Shamsie succeeds in putting a human face on the US's three bitterest enemies of the past sixty years. It is an epic novel that spans all of those years - covering three generations and as many continents. And,...more
Sheila
Gosh this book was good. A sweeping intertangling of families from Japan, Europe, India, Afghanistan; from WW2 Japan and the atomic bomb, to the partition of India and Pakistan, to a post 9/11 America and Afghanistan; how each of these event impacts their lives irrevocably. Kamsie depicts the horror of each with a touching humility which drives straight through your heart, from the burnt back of Hiroko, to the injust accustation against Sajjad, to the desparation of partition enforced separation...more
Jennifer
I really liked the first half of this book. Shamsie starts with an strong and intriguing protagonist. Hiroko Tanaka is a survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki whose German fiance is killed in the blast. She ends up tracking down his half sister in Delhi right before India becomes independent and Pakistan becomes a country. That should be enough history to pack into one novel, but then Shamsie goes on to include the Soviet occupation of Aghanistan, 9/11, and America's war in Afghanistan. It just ge...more
A. Gamble
Requested this ARC from the publisher because Rushdie reviewed it.
xx

Hiroko Tanaka is a wonderful character, and this is a brilliant work, highly appropriate to finish reading on the day Obama announced the closing of "Gitmo." To explain why would give away the entire story (difficult in an "epic" work, but possible with this one), so I'll just say this is a lovely work, diligently researched, brilliantly written and researched, and one that will ultimately break your heart.
Nicole
I can't speak highly enough of this book, I absolutely loved it. The material is so powerful and global in scope. The writing style is perfect for the subject matter, brief where necessary and lush in other parts. This book really meditates on what it means to be a citizen in our globalizing world, what loyalty means, and what the true cost of war is. This is the best book that I've read recently (and that is saying something b/c I've really enjoyed what I've read lately).
Nadine Millar
Is it possible to criticise a work of fiction for being... well, totally made-up? This book made me realise that although I love fiction, I crave the idea that the story is somehow plausible; that the events really COULD have occurred.

That's precisely my gripe with this novel. Without wanting to give away spoilers, here is a brief summary: First of all, there is a woefully small cast of around 6 characters, between them representing almost as many nationalities. All are in some way or other dire...more
Gerhardt Himmelmann
Jun 06, 2013 Gerhardt Himmelmann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gerhardt by: Misha Husnain Ali
Shelves: read-2013
Burnt Shadows is a study of loss and grief over the span of most of a lifespan. It is also an examination of the politics of in-groups and out-groups and how people treat "the other". The novel falls easily into three sections, following its central character, Hiroko, as she migrates from her native Japan to India (Pakistan after partition) and then to the United States. In each country, the personal relationships and the culture that she has built up in her former home comes with her. Hiroko lo...more
Ben Dutton
Nominated for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction, Kamila Shamsie’s fifth novel, Burnt Shadows, explores the way in which histories shape one another, and of how people, caught up in events beyond their control, manage to find humanity even in the darkest of days.

It reveals its epic scope quickly, with a short prologue in Guantanamo Bay, as a man in shackles wonders “How did it come to this?” Instead of showing us this Islamisation of this youth, we travel backward, to Nagasaki, on the day of the...more
Lacie
A powerful novel spanning the greater part of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows explores the global connections of individuals and families in an increasingly tighter global community. The scars of war follow Hiroko, the primary character, throughout the novel from ground zero of the Nagasaki atomic bomb site to ground zero of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The lives of the Tanaka-Ashraf and the Burton-Weiss families illustrat...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Wasted Vigil
  • Partitions
  • Scottsboro
  • Trespassing: A Novel
  • Fever Chart
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
  • Molly Fox's Birthday
  • A Golden Age
  • The Wilderness
  • Love Marriage
  • Cracking India
  • Fred & Edie
  • Home Boy
  • The Toss of a Lemon
  • Shipwrecks
  • The Wandering Falcon
  • The Memory of Love
  • The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
168076
Kamila Shamsie is a Pakistani novelist, who writes in the English language. She was brought up in Karachi and attended Karachi Grammar School.

She has a BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College, and an MFA from the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was influenced by the Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali.

Kamila wrote her first novel, In The C...more
More about Kamila Shamsie...
Kartography Salt and Saffron Broken Verses In the City by the Sea A God in Every Stone

Share This Book

“How to explain to the earth that it was more functional as a vegetable patch than a flower garden, just as factories were more functional than schools and boys were more functional as weapons than as humans.” 16 likes
“The world won’t get more or less terrible if we’re indoors somewhere with a mug of hot chocolate,’ Kim said. ‘Though it’s possible it will seem slightly less terrible if there are marshmallows in the hot chocolate.” 9 likes
More quotes…