Summer read: Burnt Shadows


This novel, by Kamila Shamsie, has its center of gravity around the life of a hibakusha, though it spans multiple generations and ends with the incarceration, in Guantanamo Bay, of a man incorrectly and unjustly accused of aiding and abetting terrorism.  It spans from around 1930 to around 2002, with family connections between the generations.

I was a bit uncomfortable with a Pakistani novelist opening with a scene set in Nagasaki involving a German man and a Japanese woman.  It seemed to contrived, too outside of the author’s possible experience.  I can see how she got her narrative impetus from the photo above.  I suppose she could have done enough research to sustain it.  I wondered throughout the book how someone close enough to have these kind of burns could survive radiation sickness to live through the span of the novel (slight spoiler there).  Eventually I got comfortable enough with all of the meet-cutes and contrivances in the overall plot line to enjoy the novel, but it took a while, and so I was always thisclose to being unable to willingly suspend disbelief.

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