Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie 

“How [do you] 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.”
Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows

Although marketed as ‘popular fiction’, Shamsie’s writing is a product of intimate knowledge with post-colonial and literary discourse. Kamila Shamsie, a descendant of a long line of writers and feminists from Pakistan, takes an ambitious approach to writing this book. Burnt Shadows covers issues on crossing borders, immigration, war, intercultural relationships and trauma.

I should give some summary to the text/story but I feel like revealing anything of the plot would be to give away too much. This book should be enjoyed in whole without ‘tasters’, and although you will be familiar with the world events surrounding the story; reading it from a local representation will be better if you don’t know anything else.

Reading this book was like finding a treasure trove, that treasure being a shit-tone of food-for-thought! All I will say is this book spans 5 countries and over a 60-year period. Despite the ambitious scope of events, subjects and time period; Shamsie doesn’t miss a beat. Coherently structured and well thought out; the story does not seem to leave any gaps. This is world literature at its best.


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