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Eurocentrism (736).

Burnt Shadows

could be read as an actively transformative

project from subaltern perspectives to counter the global designs of the

United States from WWII through to the War on Terror. The prologue

of the novel introduces a prisoner who is stripped naked and, while

waiting to be dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, asks, “

How did it

come to this.

” The first chapter is set in 1945, in Nagasaki, where the

atomic bomb dropped by the United States claims the lives of the father,

and Konrad, the German fiancée, of the female protagonist, Hiroko.

Two years later, to alleviate her sorrow, Hiroko goes to Delhi, India,

where Konrad used to live with his sister, Elizabeth, and her English

husband, James Burton. There, Hiroko meets and marries Elizabeth

and James’s Muslim employee, Sajjad Ashraf. As a result of the

Partition in 1947, Hiroko and Sajjad are forced to move to Karachi,

Pakistan. In the meantime, Elizabeth gets divorced and moves to New

York with her son, Henry. When India performs nuclear tests in 1998

to threaten Pakistan, Hiroko moves to New York to live with Elizabeth

and her granddaughter, Kim. The novel traces the shared histories of

the Ashrafs and the Burtons across three continents. As the narrative

progresses, 9/11 and its consequences challenge the close relationship

between the two families. The murder of Henry in Afghanistan and

Kim’s radical distrust of Muslims cause Raza to be mistakenly

identified and arrested as a terror suspect. The end of the story

suggests that Raza might be the unidentified prisoner from the

prologue, who is waiting to be sent to Guantánamo.

Having incorporated 9/11 into its final section,

Burnt Shadows

has been read by quite a few reviewers as a post-9/11 novel.



when the interviewer Michele Filgate asked Shamsie, “A section of this

novel is set in New York after 9/11. Did you deliberately set out to

write a post[-]9/11 novel?” Shamsie gave a firm answer, “No” (Shamsie,

2008). Instead, as Shamsie (2008) explained in the interview, she


Charlie Lee Potter of

The Independent

, for example, praises

Burnt Shadows

as a

“decade-spanning and continent-bestriding post-9/11 novel” (2009).