Kamila Shamsie biography

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Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie

How to pronounce Kamila Shamsie: ka-MEE-lah shum-Sea

Kamila Shamsie 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 of ethnic violence. Broken Verses was published in 2005 and Burnt Shadows in 2008 in the UK and 2009 in the USA. She lives in in London and Karachi.



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Interview

In two separate pieces, one video, one text, Kamila Shamsie describes the inspiration behind Burnt Shadows, her powerful, sweeping epic novel crossing generations, cultures and continents.



Kamila Shamsie describes the inspiration behind Burnt Shadows, her powerful, sweeping epic novel crossing generations, cultures and continents

I'd been interested - for lack of a better word - in the bombing of Nagasaki for years before writing 'Burnt Shadows.' As a university student in America I one heard someone say, 'Even if you accept the arguments used to justify Hiroshima, how do you justify Nagasaki.' For some reason it stuck in my mind - how could anyone witness the devastation of Hiroshima and three days later decide to repeat the act? Years later, when both Pakistan and India became nuclear states this question returned to me with greater urgency.

My original idea was to write about a Pakistani character whose grandmother was Japanese and had survived Nagasaki. But then I read John Hersey's 'Hiroshima', and came upon this line: "On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns - . . .on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to their skin) the shapes of flowers they had had on their kimonos."  Right away, I had an image of a women with the tattoo of birds along her back, from the bird-...

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Books by this Author

Books by Kamila Shamsie at BookBrowse
Burnt Shadows jacket Broken Verses jacket Kartography jacket Salt and Saffron jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Kamila Shamsie but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, I, the Divine, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman and most recently, The Angel of History; also, the story collection, The Perv. He divides his time between San Francisco... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Burnt Shadows

    Try:
    The Hakawati
    by Rabih Alameddine

  • Amitav Ghosh

    Amitav Ghosh

    Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Burnt Shadows

    Try:
    The Glass Palace
    by Amitav Ghosh

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