Monday, 23 August 2010

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie


DATE READ: August 2010

NOTES: Burnt Shadows is an ambitious book. The story moves from the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945 to India under colonial rule, to the birth of Pakistan and right up to the “war on terror” in the United States at the present time. The plotting is fairly complex – especially as it takes place over such a long time. However I thought it became a bit unwieldy and less credible towards the end……

Most of her characters are well rounded. Hiroko was a really interesting central character – a clever Japanese linguist who carries with her the emotional and physical scars of Nagasaki. She is perceptive and incisive in her judgements. Following the 9/11 attacks she reflects that the 3,000 Americans killed seemed to have so much more significance than other event.

Elizabeth Burton is a typical colonial wife but she gradually befriends Hiroko and eventually they become close. She is enigmatic and I feel Shamsie probably had ambivalent feelings about her.

A beautifully written moving book.

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