Saturday, April 16, 2011

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (I plan to read)

Shamsie’s complex fifth novel, spanning the years between August 1945 and September 2001, is a story of two inextricably connected and politically impacted families. Berliner Konrad Weiss and Hiroko Tanaka, his translator, meet in Nagasaki and plan to marry. But after he is incinerated by the bomb and she is left permanently scarred, Hiroko journeys to Delhi, home of Konrad’s half-sister, Elizabeth Burton, and her British husband, James. Hiroko bonds with James’ assistant, Sajjad. With Partition between India and Pakistan looming, the Burtons return to England, where their son Henry is in boarding school. Hiroko and Sajjad marry, but they’re not allowed back into India, since Sajjad is a Muslim who “chose to leave.” Shamsie takes up their story 35 years later in Karachi, where they have one son, Raza, after bomb-related miscarriages. Henry appears, searching for his past, and offers to assist with Raza’s education; by 2001, they’re working together for the CIA in the U.S. Shamsie offers a moving look at the “complicated shared history” of these two families, an increasingly common facet of globalization. --Deborah Donovan(review from amazon.com)