Excerpt from Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Burnt Shadows

A Novel

by Kamila Shamsie

Burnt Shadows
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Weeks later, he accused her, laughingly, of driving up her price by playing on his guilt. Well, of course, she said, with characteristic frankness; scruples and starvation don’t go well together. Then she spread her arms wide and scrunched her eyes shut as though concentrating hard on conjuring up another world: When the war’s over, I’ll be kind. Opening her eyes, she added quietly, Like my mother. He couldn’t help thinking her mother would never have approved of starting up a romance with a German, or even walking alone with him through the hills of Nagasaki. It discomforted him to know his happiness was linked to the death of her mother, but then she took his hand and he doubted that anyone, even a revered mother, could have told Hiroko Tanaka what to do. Why should rules of conduct be the only things untouched by war, she once asked him? Everything from the past is passed.

Kicking the air- raid hood on the ground before him he enters the capacious shelter built into the slope of Azalea Manor’s garden. The air musty and tinged with bitterness. Here, the deck of cards with which he and Yoshi Watanabe and Keiko Kagawa kept each other distracted, particularly useful during the early days of the air-raid sirens when there was more terror than boredom associated with the warnings; here, the oak chair from which Kagawa- san surveyed the behaviour of his neighbours and family and staff during those rare occasions when the air- raid sirens found him still at home; here, the hopscotch squares which Konrad had drawn in the dust for the younger Kagawa children; here, the hidden bottle of sake which the cook thought no one else knew about; here, the other hidden bottle of sake which the teenage Kagawas came in search of late at night when the shelter was empty. They knew Konrad could see them from his caretaker’s house, but while their parents might still be uneasy after seven years about quite how to negotiate their relationship with the landlord who folded his lanky frame into the tiny house at the bottom of the garden the younger Kagawas knew him as an ally and would have happily welcomed him into their drinking parties if he had shown any inclination to join them.

Now all the Kagawas cross over to the other side of the road if they see him walking towards them. One round of questioning by the military police about the suspect loyalties of their landlord was all it had taken to move them out of Azalea Manor.

Konrad sits on Kagawa-san’s oak chair, bouncing his air-raid hood on his knee. He is so immersed in what was that it takes him a moment to realise that the figure which appears in the entrance to the shelter, hood in hand, exists in present tense. It is Yoshi Watanabe. As if asking for permission to enter a private party, Yoshi says, in English, “May I come in? I’ll understand if you say no.”

Konrad doesn’t respond, but as Yoshi mutters a word of apology and starts to walk away, Konrad calls out, “Don’t be an idiot, Joshua. How’d you think I’d feel if a bomb landed on you?”

Yoshi steps inside, looping his spectacles over his ears and blinking rapidly.

“I’m not sure.”

Picking up the deck of cards, he kneels on the ground, shuffling the cards and then dealing ten each to himself and the empty space across from him.

Yoshi Watanabe is the “Jap” whose telegrams James Burton had referred to when packing Konrad off to Nagasaki. His grandfather, Peter Fuller of Shropshire, had been George Burton’s closest friend and neighbour. When Konrad arrived in Nagasaki it was Yoshi who was waiting at the harbour to welcome him, Yoshi who showed him around Azalea Manor, Yoshi who found him a Japanese tutor, Yoshi who produced the Kagawas as though they were a bouquet of flowers hiding within his sleeve within hours of hearing Konrad say he’d be far more comfortable living in the cosiness of the caretaker’s house, Yoshi who regaled him with stories of Nagasaki’s turn-of-the-century cosmopolitan world, unique in Japan - its English - language newspapers, its International Club, its liaisons and intermarriages between European men and Japanese women. And when Konrad said he needed someone to translate Japanese letters for the book he was planning to write about the cosmopolitan world, it was Yoshi who had introduced him to his nephew’s German teacher, Hiroko Tanaka.

Excerpted from Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. Copyright © 2009 by Kamila Shamsie. Excerpted by permission of Picador, a division of Macmillan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    In the Country of Men
    by Hisham Matar
    Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some ...
  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.