Sunday, 22 May 2011

Burnt Shadows



Just finished reading Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. Used the Kindle for iPad app...(still loving this!).

An interesting book. It is lingering with me, and giving me lots to think about. The novel follows the life of a Japanese woman, Hiroko. She lives through the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. In the years that follow, her life leads her to India, Pakistan and the United States. She, understandably, often seems to be haunted by fear of the bomb.

I appreciated the book for the background information it gave about the situation in Afghanastan, mujahideen, and even the climate of fear that can surround Islam in the 21st Century.

However, to be completely honest the characters didn't draw me in.  Also, the journey this woman takes, seemed to me quite artificial. A mere plot device linking atomic bomb to threat of atomic bomb. However, I was willing to suspend my feelings with regard to characterisation and plot devices, for the sake of the commentary on the political climate in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and so forth, which I found extremely relevant.

The conclusion was somewhat shocking. Even, it could be said, unsatisfying and frustrating. But thinking it over, this is probably one of the cleverest parts of the novel.  It hits home to those of us who live only with a knowledge of Afghanistan on the periphery of our world-vision, making us really feel the senselessness of many commonly-held opinions.

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