Burnt Shadows: A Novel [Kamila Shamsie] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award An Orange Prize. SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE In a prison cell in the US, a man stands trembling, naked, fearfully waiting to be shipped to Guantánamo Bay. Summary and reviews of Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie, plus links to a book excerpt from Burnt Shadows and author biography of Kamila Shamsie.
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Interview by Michele Filgate Tags: Kamila Shamsie is the author of four novels, including Kartography and Broken Verses. Her most recent novel, Burnt Shadowswas shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in fiction.
I spoke with Kamila recently about this compelling, ehadows novel, and her decisions to set the book in several very different countries. Shamsie is a generous, expansive writer; one who paints the most intricate details with vivid sentences.
She has a confident, directly articulate voice that rings true on paper and in person. I hosted her at RiverRun Bookstore, where I am events coordinator, recently, and then interviewed her via e-mail.
Can you talk about your decision to set Burnt Shadows in five different countries? It lends an epic scope to the narrative. Was this a conscious decision before you sat down to write the book? Not a conscious decision at all—at least, not prior to starting the novel. My original intention was that there would be a very brief Nagasaki section, ending with the bomb, and then the novel would move to when India and Pakistan tested their nuclear bombs.
I imagined a Pakistani character whose grandmother had been in Nagasaki when the bomb fell. But as I started thinking about the grandmother in Nagasaki it became her story I was interested in, and I decided to follow it and see where it went. In the end there was bugnt grandson, and no section—but there is a link between the woman in Nagasaki and a young man from Pakistan. What sort of research went into the opening chapter set in Nagasaki?
You really capture how it might have felt to be there when the bomb was dropped. But they helped me start to visualise details such as clothing, interiors, details of wartime living. Then I swept through the internet, and later through the library at Hamilton College where I was teaching during part of the writing of the novel searching out anything I could find about Nagasaki before the bomb and on the day of the bomb.
And maps—maps of Nagasaki were very important, too, to help me —well, get my bearings. Even though the Nagasaki section ended up being less than 25 pages in an earlier draft it was closer to 70 pages I think I must have spent more time working on that section alone than on the rest of the novel. Are you a writer who conducts all your research before you sit down to write the story? I conduct enough research to make some kind of start, but then as the story unfolds it determines the direction in which the research goes, and as the research proceeds it nudges the story in one direction or the other.
How challenging is kamlla to write a novel set in the past, and capture all the details without ever having been there? As someone who was born in Karachi, lived in London, and attended college in the United States, how have all of these places influenced your writing?
Where did you come up with this?
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
As I said earlier, I originally envisaged a very different kind of novel. There are other stories in the world! And descriptions of how the smell of burning lasted and lasted.
But I was also struck by the disconnection. It seems like Hiroko is searching for a home, a place to settle. Is her search at all a metaphor for people trying to understand their own place in history?
What is the common thread that links all the time periods you write about together? At the level of narrative, all the sections have the following elements: In what situations can such relationships endure, and in what situations do they crumble? But equally significant was the structural shift—this is a novel in four sections, each of which is fairly self-contained and consists of different characters only Hiroko is constant through the novel, and even she recedes from the foreground over the course of the novel.
There was a constant movement between burrowing deeply into one time period, one set of characters, and then stepping way back to see if that worked as a mosaic piece for the larger picture hopelessly mixed metaphor there!
The Kamila Shamsie Interview | Quarterly Conversation
Influence is a hard one to pin down—I suspect readers are better are being able to detect influence in my work than I am. This may just be further evidence of my lack of reflection about how the writing happens.
Her work has been published or is forthcoming in CBSNews. She is a book reviews editor at Identity Theory and runs a blog. Well, I always felt that my life, and everyone’s lives nowadays, is not l The whole Lispector re-launching began innocently enough: On Jose Saramago’s The Not In September of samsie, at the age of eighty-five, Jose Saramago began to write a blog.
Who Was David Foster Wallace? A complex editor at a certain swanky standard-bearing New York magazine had this to shamske whe Shaadows Irresistible Heart of Darkness: