Burnt Shadows

“Burnt Shadows” by Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan)

Favourite Extract

War is like disease. Until you’ve had it, you don’t know it. But no. That’s a bad comparison. At least with disease everyone thinks it might happen to them one day. You have a pain here, swelling there, a cold which stays and stays. You start to think maybe this is something really bad. But war – countries like yours they always fight wars, but always somewhere else. The disease always happens somewhere else. It’s why you fight more wars than anyone else; because you understand war least of all. You need to understand it better.


August 9th, 1945, Nagasaki. Hiroko Tanaka steps out onto her veranda, taking in the view of the terraced slopes leading up to the sky. Wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, she is twenty-one, in love with the man she is to marry, Konrad Weiss. In a split second, the world turns white. In the next, it explodes with the sound of fire and the horror of realisation. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost… Read more

Nicola’s Creative Reading Group reading list

Year 7 – “Asia & the Pacific” (Oct 2013 – Jun 2014)

“The Patience Stone” by Atiq Rahimi (Afghanistan)
“Burnt Shadows” by Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan)
“Narcopolis” by Jeet Thayil (India)
“A Golden Age” by Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh)
“Reef” by Romesh Gunesekera (Sri Lanka)
“The Solemn Lantern Maker” by Merlinda Bobis (Philippines)
“The Secret River” by Kate Grenville (Australia)
“Once Were Warriors” by Alan Duff (New Zealand)
“Frangipani” by Célestine Hitiura Vaite (Tahiti)

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