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Kamila Shamsie is a Pakistan-born novelist who was educated in the United States and now lives in London, from where she recently gave the interview below. In her 2009 novel “Burnt Shadows,” Kamila Shamsie explores the indelible mark that the larger sweep of history leaves on people caught up in its maelstroms. It is an ambitious epic delving into personal sufferings against the backdrop of tragic histories spanning six decades, three generations and five countries.

The book opens in Nagasaki in 1945, where the protagonist, a young Japanese woman named Hiroko Tanaka, falls in love only to lose her German fiance, Konrad Weiss, in the atomic bombing. Trying on her mother’s summer kimono she steps out to the veranda just as the flash and blast incinerates the city, burning the garment’s beautiful swan design onto her back.

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