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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A video in which Kamila Shamsie discusses Burnt Shadows
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 ...
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