Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
Burnt Shadows is a story of outsiders, a story of loss. We set out on what is a finely woven journey across the world in wartime Nagasaki. Schoolteacher Hiroko has just accepted a proposal of marriage from her beloved Konrad Weiss. He promises to come back for supper to meet her father.
But this is Nagasaki where the world turns white. Konrad never returns and all Hiroko is left with is bird shaped burns on her back
Before he and much of Nagasaki were annihilated by the bomb, Konrad had promised that they would one day visit his half sister and English brother-in-law James and Ilse Burton in Delhi. And it is here that Hiroko makes her way looking for something of her fiancé.
And it is here that she meets Sajaad Ashraf the Burtons’ employee and, although less than welcome in the household, Hiroko finds a solace in Ashraf who had been Konrad’s friend.
The story crosses the years, unlikely friendships form, families entwine and we follow Raza the Ashraf’s son and Harry, the Burton heir, through dangerous times and territories. There is the CIA, Afghanistan and the same world Hiroko inhabited in Nagasaki, one where nothing and no one is safe.
Japan, India, Pakistan, America, Afghanistan, the shadows cast by war and conflict, it is all there in a story beautifully told. Burnt Shadows is a moving book charting our century and its different worlds.
Certainly one not to be missed.