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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 10 August 2016
This book took me into a fascinating read of history, politics, religion, atonement, love, and a whole lot of major issues in a very readable way. It took a little time to get into the book as the first chapters were slow but set the scene well and I liked the interplay between the characters.

This book has left me with more questions than answers about the numerous themes it tackled, but was well worth the read and has inspired me to read up on some of the history covered in the book.
A recommended read!
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on 8 May 2009
I loved BURNT SHADOWS. My friend recommended it to me after being kept up all night unable to put it down. I found it equally absorbing and was so happy to hear it has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Hiroko Tanaka is a marvellously crafted character and throughout her journey you are taken from the devastating bomb blast in Nagasaki all the way to Afghanistan. I think this ambition is what made the book so special and worldy and significant. Since when has ambition been something to criticise? In this book the boundries of worlds and cultures become slippery and inter-connected, reminding us of the truly global nature of our existence and how we all must understand each other if we are to live together peacefully. The boldness of the narrative reflects this, but not only that, the writing is beautiful. There is one scene where Hiroko has just arrived in Delhi and begins to take Urdu lessons from a young man called Sajjid. She reveals her scars to him (the marks left forever on her back from the kimono she was wearing at the time of the bomb) and the way she describes how Sajjid touches them and how it makes Hiroko feel was truly exquisite.

This is a writer who reveals so much about our inner worlds and also our outer. Do be able to do both well is extremely difficult, and to do so in a way that is page-turning and exciting is almost impossible...

Please read this book!!!
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2009
There are several good reviews here, which I don't feel I can compete with. Suffice it to say that I found this book to be both lyrical in its writing, and more importantly (for me) to have depths of meaning that ask the reader to question their notions of love and loyalty and to ask themselves just what is it that makes life worth living.

The ending came as quite a shock to me (I was expecting more story, and I was expecting the end to be more upbeat), and once I had taken it in, I felt it was almost unbearably poignant.

This book isn't an easy book to read, but it well repays the reader the effort put in. It is one of my favourite books of 2009.
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on 26 April 2016
I would give this book 10 stars if I could. It is beautifully written and flows effortlessly. The heroine in fascinating and the book spans from Nagasaki to 9/11. I was quite bereft when the book ended.Strongly recommended.
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on 15 November 2015
I recommend that anyone who struggles to understand humanity and what we are doing to each other in this world read this book. An amazingly written narrative that draws together the threads that start from WW2 to today and how so much depends on what seem random acts
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on 30 March 2016
I enjoyed reading this story even though it wasn't the fast-paced action that's my usual genre. The story spans most of the adult life of the heroine and holds interest with characters that are believable and that I could empathise with. The story is a bit episodic, so doesn't flow as much as I'd like, perhaps even a bit too slow in parts, but overall is worthwhile. The end I found too abrupt - perhaps there's a sequel?
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on 7 January 2010
Like many of the reviewers, I really enjoyed the first half of the book (Nagasaki and India) - the lyrical writing, the descriptions and the emotions all enthralled me.

However, with the introduction of the CIA etc., I found myself skipping through it as I would a lightweight modern thriller. I am sure what is described, did occur but it just wasn't convincing enough to make me linger - and I raced through to the ending (v. surprising)just "wanting to see what happened", rather than caring very much one way or the other.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did - and I think it made me look at historic events from a different perspective - but, to be honest, I'm really rather glad I have finished it.
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on 23 February 2011
This is a well written and interesting book - from the time of the Atomic Bomb in Nagasaki to the current situation in Afghanistan. Thought provoking but also descriptive and enjoyable. Would recommend to anyone who is interested in the world, its happenings, its cultures, but at the same time wants a good read.
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on 15 August 2015
Kamila Shamsie takes a bold and necessary step looking at how the people of Afghanistan (and Pakistan) have been portrayed since the upsurge of the Taleban. This is what literature should do, make us look beyond the knee-jerk reactions and assumptions of Western governments to the everyday lives of those living through wars and their repercussions. There's also a timely reminder about what horrendous steps migrants will take to get away from their war-torn countries.

Although enjoyable, the earlier part of the book is less appealing than the latter; the character of mixed-race Raza and how he finds it hard to belong to any particular country (even with his extraordinary linguistic skills) is when the narrative wakes up. Despite being present throughout the book, his mother Hiroko, the hibakusha, is less believable somehow than her son, although perhaps that's a Japanese characteristic, her inscrutability. Her rage at Kim after the betrayal, right at the end, will stay with me though as her first comprehensible act against the beliefs and religious systems that have affected her entire life.

A very good book.
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on 31 October 2011
A poignant journey through fifty years of world events, as seen through the eyes of members of two inter-connected families and their experiences of language and culture; identity and belonging; people looking for an understanding of their place in the world. Beautifully written fiction.
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