Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

I read this book a couple of months ago, but it still remains in my head. I would like to have written this novel. This is how I would like to be able to write.

The story starts in Nagasaki in 1945, as the atomic bomb goes off, and the main character, Hiroko, is hit by shrapnel. Her lover is killed. Everything in her life is destroyed. She leaves Nagasaki in search of her lover’s relatives and goes to Delhi, where she falls in love with an Urdu man and moves to Pakistan. The story of the two families are intertwined and end up in Pakistan, just before the 9/11 disaster.

So the story itself is fascinating, although I found the first half of the book to be more gripping than the second and felt that towards the end, the author was starting to run out of oomph.

But it is the writing that appealed to me. Look at this description:

“An old man walks past with a skin so brittle Hiroko thinks of a paper lantern with the figure of a man drawn on to it.”


“… images of classrooms swooping through her thoughts the way memories of flight might enter the minds of broken-winged birds.”

Beautiful images, aren’t they?

I have read one other book of hers called Kartography, in which I also found beautiful metaphors and similes.

They are both worth reading, but especially Burnt Shadows. And once you’re read it, you’ll understand the haunting title.


Author: Nella

Constant reader, sometime writer, school resource manager. I can't imagine a life without books, nor my children, my cats, my dog, my family, my friends. I belong to two book clubs, and I don't mind whether I read a paper book or an electronic one - as long as I read.

2 thoughts on “Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie”

  1. I was urgently writing down the titles, when it occurred to me, I can just check out your recommendations on my phone when I am in the bookshop! This is such a useful idea.

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