Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Burnt Shadows

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Burnt Shadows

A Novel

by Kamila Shamsie

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie X
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
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    Apr 2009, 384 pages

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Five Notable Pakistani Authors
While Indian authors have been the darlings of the literary world for the past couple of decades, Pakistani novelists writing in English have remained in the shadows -- but no longer. Even as their country sinks into violence, a growing number of novelists are winning acclaim around the world. Here are five Pakistani authors to watch out for:

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.  Her third novel, Kartography, was published in 2004, followed by Broken Verses in 2005. Burnt Shadows was published in the UK in 2008 and last month in the USA. She lives in London and Karachi.

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke (2001), was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/Hemingway Award finalist, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was published in 2007. It was a nominee for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and for the Booker Prize. His writing has also appeared in Time, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

Daniyal Mueenuddin, whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and elsewhere, spent his early childhood in Pakistan and then lived in the United States. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he returned to Pakistan and lived there for seven years on his father's farm in southern Punjab. Although he didn't begin writing fiction until much later, his experiences during those years on the farm form the basis of his short stories, published as In Other Rooms, Other Wonders in February 2009.  He and his wife live on and manage a farm in Khanpur, Pakistan.

Nadeem Aslam was born in 1966 in Gujranwala, Pakistan. His first short story was published in Urdu in a Pakistani newspaper when he was 13 years old. He came to Britain at the age of 14 when his communist father (a former poet and film director, now garbage collector and factory worker) fled President Zia's regime and settled the family in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He went to Manchester University to read biochemistry but left in his third year to become a writer.  He is the author of Season of the Rainbirds (1993), Maps For Lost Lovers (2005)  and The Wasted Vigil (2008). Although culturally a Muslim, he describes himself as a non-believer and, due to money constraints, has not been back to Pakistan since leaving as a child. He currently lives in north London.

Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan. After leaving the Pakistani Air Force Academy to pursue a career in journalism, he worked for Newsline, India Today, and The Washington Post. He has written plays for the stage and screen, including a critically acclaimed BBC drama and The Long Night (2002), Pakistan's first digital feature film. Hanif is a graduate of the University of East Anglia's creative writing programme. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was published in 2008.  It was longlisted for the Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the Best First Book category. He is currently head of the BBC's Urdu Service and lives in London.

This article is from the May 6, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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