A Charred World: Mapping Chasms and Loss in Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows


  • Atisha Srivastava Research Scholar Department of English St. John’s College Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Agra
  • Shailendra P. Singh Department of English St. John’s College, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Agra.




Chasm, loss, geo-political, Second World War, Partition, 9/11, politics, violence.


Kamila Shamsie’s novel, Burnt Shadows, is a riveting rendition of lost homelands, resilience, new beginnings, cross-cultural relationships, terrorism, violence, love, and loss. Spanned over a period of fifty-seven years, the geo-political narrative traverses five countries showcasing the entwined lives of the three generations of the Weiss-Burtons and Tanaka-Ashrafs families, covering a vast expanse of history ranging from the Second World War to Guantanamo Bay. It chronicles the horrors of the Nagasaki bombing, the brutalities of the Partition of India and Pakistan, the paranoia around the nuclear race in the sub-continent, the Cold War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its response, and the aftermath of 9/11 New York. The novel is a critique of politics, conflicts, and violence. Shamsie critiques the maddening struggle between the power structures and their devastating consequences. The novel also delineates the fundamentalist notion of treating people with different worldviews as a threat. Hiroko Tanaka, the protagonist, is a warrior and a survivor who loses her world twice but rebuilds, only to lose it for the third time with her son’s capture. The proposed paper seeks to expose the chasm that engulfs the contemporary world and trace the losses several characters suffer throughout the novel. It also aims to explore several nations' internal landscapes and the multidimensional consequences of new and emerging conflicts that seamlessly replace the old wars. It also seeks to find possible ways to bridge the chasms.


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How to Cite

Atisha Srivastava, & Shailendra P. Singh. (2023). A Charred World: Mapping Chasms and Loss in Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows. Creative Saplings, 2(03), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.56062/gtrs.2023.2.03.315