Friday, June 5, 2009

82 - Burnt Shadows; Kamila Shamsie

Burnt Shadows: A Novel by Kamila Shamsie is a 2009 Orange prize contender.

HirokoTanaka is a unforgettable woman who overcame so many tragedies in this story. Beginning on August 9th, in 1945 when she watches the sun come through the clouds, but then suddenly the world goes white. The atomic bomb has been dropped on Japan killing the man Hiroko intended to marry. As this horrendous event is happening Hiroko’s life is spare, but the scars of the event will remain forever. The heat melts through the fabric of her kimono and three black cranes are etched into her skin as permanent scars of the aftermath.
When Hiroko decides she can no longer remain in Japan, she travels to Delhi, India and tries to build a new life, falling in love and starting a family, but once again circumstances cause her to be displaced.

Spanning a period of almost 60 years and transporting the reader to five different countries, beginning in 1945 in Nagasaki, Japan and ending in the United States in 2002 while a man is awaiting sentencing.

An very good novel dealing with important issues, Burnt Shadows was an inspiring read, but perhaps a bit too ambitious. Specifically, the author, in my opinion, tried to cover too much in this one book: too many countries and cultures over too long a time period. Although I was shocked by the ending somehow I felt some parts of the story felt forced or contrived in order to try and make it all fit. Despite this, Burnt Shadows is a emotional journey about living in an uncertain fragile world. RECOMMENDED.

This is the author's 5th book. Her first book was In the City By the Sea (1998). Her Bio Here.
RATING - 3.5/5 - COMPLETED - 6/4/2009
WHERE FROM: My Review Stacks


  1. Thanks for the review. I have this one to read and I'm looking forward to it. I'll let you know how I feel about scope of the novel in my review.

  2. I agree with you. I too felt that the author was overly ambitious with the scope of this book, and it felt very contrived in places. It is such a shame as some of the sections of writing were fantastic - I loved the first chapter.

    I would happily read other books by her in the future though.

  3. I love the cover for this one. It looks so mysterious. Its too bad it was a little to ambitious though.

  4. Do you know if this is the author's first book, Diane?

    This is one I am looking forward to reading. It covers time periods and topics that really interest me. I'll keep in mind both yours and Jackie's issues--maybe then they won't bother me so much.

  5. Wendy, this is Shamsies 5th book . Her first was In the City B the Sea (1998). Here is link to her bio:

    I bet you might enjoy this book.

  6. I'm still trying to decide if I should read this one or not! I'm hearing lots about it and reviews seem to be mixed...

  7. Thanks for linking to your review on my blog; I enjoyed reading it. For the most part we were struck by the same aspects of the novel and I am re-evaluating the ending based on others' responses; I am more forgiving and think that it outshone by other parts, which more than makes up for its contrived inadequacy.
    I look forward to reading more simultaneous reviews!

  8. Good review, Diane. I hate that it tried to cover too much in the book. But it does have an intriguing plot.

  9. I just finished this book and feel much the same as you. I thing she cast her net too wide and managed to encompass too much. I liked it though, and was just stunned by the ending. I kept thinking: there has to be more, there has to be more! Great review!


Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.