Kartography: Book summary and reviews of Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

Kartography

By Kamila Shamsie

Kartography
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2003,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

Crib mates, raised together from birth, narrator Raheen and her best friend Karim dream each other's dreams, finish each other's sentences, speak in a language of anagrams. They share an idyllic childhood in upper-class Karachi with parents who are also best friends, even once engaged to the other until they rematched in what they jokingly call "the fiancee swap."

The night Karim's family migrates from Karachi to London, Raheen knows that "some of my tears were his tears and some of his tears were mine." But as distance and adolescence split them apart, Karim takes refuge in the rationality of maps while Raheen searches for the secret behind her parents' exchange. What she uncovers takes us back two decades to reveal a story not just of a family's turbulent history but that of a country - and brings us forward to a grown-up Raheen and Karim drawn back to each other in the city that is their true home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The trauma of war is typically gauged by loss of lives and property, not broken hearts, but the microcosm is often as powerful an indicator of loss as the macrocosm-or so Shamsie seems to say in her latest novel, a shimmering, quick-witted lament and love story." - Publishers Weekly

"Shamsie portrays a modern-day romance in a war-ridden city, a sentimental example of how love continues to blossom in the rubble of a devastated land." - Booklist

"Its artful uncovering of how people hide from themselves and one another echoes Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things." - Kirkus Reviews

"Described as a young Anita Desai, [Shamsie's] third book, about Karachi during the turbulent 1990s, is worth all the fuss." - Harper's Bazaar

"Yet despite the many strongly evocative word pictures, there are also patches of bland dialog that detract from the overall effectiveness of the writing." - Library Journal

"A gorgeous novel. Shamsie's wry humor infuses and quickens the narrative." - Los Angeles Times

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Author Information

Kamila Shamsie Author Biography

Kamila Shamsie was born in 1973 in Pakistan. Her first novel, In the City by the Sea, was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and her second, Salt and Saffron, won her a place on Orange's list of '21 Writers for the 21st Century'. In 1999 Kamila received the Prime Minister's Award for Literature in Pakistan. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College in Clinton New York, where she has also taught Creative Writing, and a MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also writes for The Guardian, The New Statesman, Index on Censorship and Prospect magazine, and broadcasts on radio.  Kartography (2004), explores the strained relationship between soulmates Karim and Raheen, set against a backdrop ...

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