Sheila's Reviews > Burnt Shadows

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
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's review
Nov 22, 10

really liked it
Read in November, 2010

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 from home, to the standoff tensions between an atomic India and an atomic Pakistan; to the American military involvement in Afghanistan; to the horrors of underground escape routes from Afghanistan to Canada and the smell of cabbages and squashed sea sick bodies. The common threads are of committment and separation, loyalty, betrayal and atonement, friendship, love and loss. It is about identity, language and culture, the problems cause by the lack of understanding of the differences in these and the problems cause by understanding them; about the ephemeral nature of ones roots to place, to culture and to people, to disappearing worlds. Shortlisted for the Orange prize, I'm sure reviewers will pick and find flaws in it, but take it, read it and see it as a whole. I thoroughly recommend it.
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