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Kartography

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,220 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
Crib mates, raised together from birth, narrator Raheen and her best friend Karim dream each other's dreams, finish each other's sentences, speak in a language of anagrams. They share an idyllic childhood in upper-class Karachi with parents who are also best friends, even once engaged to the other until they rematched in what they jokingly call "the fiancee swap." The nigh ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published October 1st 2001)
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Beth
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary_fiction
Kamila Shamsie is one of the best novelists I've ever read. Period. Her grasp of craft is impressive, especially since she's now only published four novels, this one being her second. Her characters are always multidimensional, and she's not afraid to make her narrator a bit unsympathetic at times (or just good at making mistakes that make you frustrated, even while you keep reading because you want to find out that she fixes them eventually). Her evocation of Pakistan both in 1971 during the at ...more
Abdullah Khalid
2.5 stars to be exact.
Nigham
Can angels lie spine to spine?
If not, how they must envy us humans


GOD!!! The Ending…!!! O-O
I read and re-read it for many times. It was kind of out of nowhere…
Kamila did a great job. And she has a way with words…

I can see you, out there, reading between the lines.
Come home, stranger.
Come home, untangler of my thoughts.
Come home and tell me, what do I do with this breaking heart of mine?


And thank god, I didn’t miss the following paragraph!!!

In Karachi’s streets even the mourners turn their fa
...more
Sim
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remembered loving the book when I read it a few years ago. Yesterday as I finished the book in one sitting, I remembered why I'd loved it as much as I did.

The premise is touted as a love story between "soul-mates" Raheen and Karim, set amidst ethnic and political factions in Karachi. This in itself covers a lot of issues such as ethnic, religious and socio-economic prejudices, changing history, redemption, forgiveness, whether one big consequential action defines a person, as well as the conc
...more
Fatima Beg
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people with a connection to Karachi and a liking of esoteric notions of destiny
Shelves: novels
A very quick read. Not very special. Probably good if you want something easy for your next long flight.

Though Shamsie depicts some pecularities of Pakistani society very accurately her main theme is not capturing. She believes too much in the perfect match and destiny. Her message is well intended but her insight to the differences in society (rich and poor, generational conflicts, historical implications and the East-West culture) remain superficial. I didn't learn anything new from her.
Aurina
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The trouble with books that end poorly is that no matter how much you enjoyed the beginning, it's always those last few pages, that collapsed narrative, those damning passages that linger in your memory. You forget, several years later, how much you relished the first 200 pages, how tightly the prose gripped you, how quickly you devoured it. And so when I slammed Kartography shut, exhausted by the redundance of its last 50-70 pages, I tried to separate the beginning - that I did race through - f ...more
Huma
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pakistani-lit
SPOILERS Ahead. Consider yourself warned!!

Kartography is a book set in my dear hometown, Karachi. I guess that is reason enough to love it; but that is not the only reason. At it's heart, Kartography is a beautiful love story between two childhood best friends who are a made-for-each-other couple...it just takes them some time to reconcile to that fact.

I loved the description of Karachi and I also hated it at the same time because it was so very true. The road near 2 talwar, I guess it's alwa
...more
Viju
I was going to give this a 4, but then had to settle for a 3.5 (3 on Goodreads) due to the very fact that the author, in the name of whatever-you-call-it, introduces something at the very end of the book.

I was drawn to this book by its title (which finds an explanation in the book in a nice way) and the Goodreads' blurb. Fiction set in Pakistan is always something that I look forward to reading (particularly after Moth Smoke) and it helps that the author is a native of Pakistan and knows the geo
...more
Kristin
I was all ready to give this book 4 stars until the final 2 pages. I'm curious to know what others thought of the ending, but (without writing a spoiler review) I don't understand it AT ALL. It's in a completely different writing style than the rest of the book (i.e. almost a confusing poem style, not a book/story style). I was left not understanding at all what happened to the main characters in the book. I loved the story, even better loved all the book characters: Raheen, Karim, Sonia and Zia ...more
Osamah Shahid
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
I Love this book with all its faults. I accept this book with all its good and bad things. Just like I accept my Family with all its faults.
While Reminiscing My childhood days spent with my cousins at my grandparents home, It dawns upon me that how innocent we were to never understand the family politics and how our minds were too preoccupied with broken knees and teasing each other that we never thought that we all will one day drift apart. How we didn't know about the family secrets, the secre
...more
Fatin
This book is too real. There are too many feelings here. I'm sure somebody who isn't a Karachiite wouldn't feel the same way I did when I read this, but to me, it was just a reminder of the insane love I hold for Karachi even when I hate it in my most superficial moments.
Harry Rutherford
Kartography is my book from Pakistan for the Read The World challenge. It’s a novel set in Karachi in the 90s with flashbacks to the 70s and particularly the 1971 civil war when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Raheen and Karim have a tangled relationship which parallels, and is haunted by, the tangled relationships of their parents twenty years earlier. It’s a love story, a family saga, a book about ethnic and class tensions in Pakistan.

Given that the Read The World challenge has lead me to som
...more
Zonaira
I am done, done and done with this novel and can't just stop being thankful to the friend who suggested it to me. I am so in love with this tale of human errors, decisions and forgiveness and above all my fav fav topic :friendships and bonds.
Reading this book for much like diving headlong into this new world with 3D glasses whereby everything is different and new and so much more alive than you can ever have thoughts. The strong bond of friendship between these two groups of friends and a huge
...more
Mairi
Ever eat something that was so good, you had to take breaks, slow down, remember to stop to breathe because it was just so rich or delicious that you just couldn't take it too quickly? And by "too quickly" I mean "at a normal-to-you pace"? That's what Kartography was for me. I found myself finishing a chapter and putting it down to walk around the house, clean something, have a glass of wine, play with the cat, redo my hair, check my email, call my mom. I could not've read this in a single sitti ...more
Gayathri
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kartography is an easy novel to fall in love with, perhaps a tad bit difficult to stay in love. Shamsie translates the turmoils of a Nation torn by Civil War into intricately explored personal stories of falling in love and falling out of love. Karachi, alive and breathing, is perhaps the most vivid character in the novel; and the smells and sounds of Karachi stay with you long after you finish the story.
Aisha Riaz
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully overwhelming. Masterful storytelling combined with a rich prose make this book an instant favourite. Unputdownable!
Ali
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. What an amazing story of Karachi,amazingly written. A recommended read for anyone who has spent life in Karachi.
Kristina Gomez
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite modern novel. There's a certain image that I always remember when I think of the book; "can angels lie spine to spine? If not, how they must envy us humans....."
Myra
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who is from Karachi and who loves living in Karachi - my relationship with my home is quite a complicated thing to explain. Karachi never gets any good press, its dirty, unattractive, chaotic - at the same time to me its - charming, energetic, vibrant, challenging, comfortable and thick-skinned. Also, I read a lot of foreign literature - particularly from the West because I often do not connect to local literature (for whatever odd reason - ive read a lot of books about spices (cliche ...more
Lara Zuberi
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kartography is the story of Raheen, and her best friend Karim, who grow up together, and are then separated during their teenage years. Raheen's father was once engaged to Karim's mother, and her mother was once engaged to his father, yet the families strangely maintained close ties. The reasons behind the broken engagements, as well as the sequence in which they happened remains unknown to both Raheen and Karim, and complicates their relationship when hidden truths emerge. Their close friends Z ...more
Mina
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I have read of hers, the first being Broken Verses, and she just keeps getting better with everything I read of hers. I am beginning to think she understands my soul. Her tactful and fair handling of the sentiments many people in West Pakistan had towards Bengalis in '71, her mastery in dealing with emotions and building those emotions, and her brilliance with words is just mesmerizing. I don't know what it is but I can't seem to be getting enough of her work.
Read it.
Neelam Naz
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant story perfectly capturing the lives of upper class karachiites. The characters were believable, easy to relate with. Moreover,the impact of Pakistan's history on it's present was depicted to perfection. Simply written, with the story evolving as per requirement; kareem and raheen are characters I shall remember for quite some time. A must read for karachi lovers away from home.
Susanne Escher
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book 5 years too late, perhaps, 5 years after leaving Karachi.

It brought back many memories of Karachi, good and bad.

It taught me about the Bangladeshi independence war, which has touched the lives of people I know.

Most importantly, it so vividly describes why Karachi is such a complicated place. At times it reminded me why I kind of preferred Lahore, and it captured so well many feelings I had about Karachi when I worked there. It was really important for me to read on a personal l
...more
Kanika Katyal
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think it was posiible for me to fall in love with novels anymore, having cheated on them wih poetry for two years now. But this novel changed everything. I have never been more sure, I am going to keep coming back to it, again and again.
Muhammad Ahmed Siddiqui
- Beautiful prose
- Simple story
- Complicated Characters
- Rhythmic Essence of Karachi
- Could have been a favorite 5 star read if it was not dragged
Debbie
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summer Bingo-One word title
This is a beautifully told story about love, relationships, and coming of age in war torn Pakistan...and, I couldn't imagine a more perfect ending.
Maryam
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant read on Karachi ...a city that never sleeps and the streets have no names
pani Katarzyna
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: south-asia, 2016
This was a fairly effortless and enjoyable read. The novel traces the lives of young people who live in Karachi, Pakistan. All of them from rich backgrounds, which already limits the scope of described environment by a whole lot. The main character, Raheen, is a spoiled and somewhat annoying girl, who has a special connection with her all-life friend Karim. When they get older they inevitably harbor feelings for each other but there is something in their parents' past that poses a hefty obstacle ...more
Zainab
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zafar, Maheen, Ali and Yasmin. Karim, Raheen, Zia and Sonia. Two quartets about to face the same fate but thank God history doesn’t repeat itself in its totality. I had half believed that it would. That there would be partner swapping again but thankfully things take a nice turn.

Kartography is a gripping novel. It brings forward a new meaning of maps. Maps as real storytellers which remind an individual of his situatedness in the bigger circle where he finds himself connected to a beggar girl o
...more
Harun Šiljak
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hot gray park.

Huh? Hot gray park, anagram for Kartography. Karachi's cartography, Karim's cartography.

The story of Karachi in the nineties was something I simply skipped in my own life: the war in Bosnia was raging, I was a kid, and I simply had no clue what happened. Events of 1971 were briefly mentioned in history class, and the eighties... I've heard about the eighties from Kamila Shamsie in person. However, all these stories are perfectly described in Kartography as one-liners, just anecdot
...more
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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...

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“For a second I was almost jealous of the clouds. Why was he looking to them for an escape when I was right here beside him?” 222 likes
“Her definition of romance was absentminded intimacy, the way someone else's hand stray to your plate of food.
I replied: no, that's just friendship; romance is always knowing exactly where that someone else's hands are. She smiled and said, there was a time I thought that way, too. But at the heart of the romance is the knowledge that those hands may wander off elsewhere, but somehow through luck or destiny or plain blind groping they'll find a way back to you, and maybe you'll be smart enough then to be grateful for everything that's still possible, in spit of your own weaknesses- and his.”
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