Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kamila Shamsie at Melbourne Writer's Festival

Ros went to see Kamila Shamsie at the Writer's Festival. Here's what she reported.

Kamila talked mostly about her latest book Burnt Shadows which covers four significant epochs of time: Nagasaki and its bombing during World War II, Delhi on the eve of Partition, Pakistan during the 1980's during significant civil turmoil and New York post 9/11. The book follows two families and Kamila talks about how she used these momentous historical events to allow her characters come alive.

Kamila is among only a handful of Pakistani writers who have begun to be read internationally. She talked about some of the controversy surrounding the book including the claims that she is anti-western. To this she stated that she is more anti-violence than anything else and this is obvious is her main characters of Hiroko Tanaka; the quintessential pacifist.

Kamila is an intelligent women with a deep historical understanding of Pakistan and her writing reflects these things. She researches each books extensively. She talked about writing specific scenes of the book using Google Maps so that she had an idea of what they looked like.

You can hear the entire session from the writers' festival on the 3 September on ABC's Radio National 10am repeated 8pm Mon–Thu, 7pm Fri or get the podcast from their website.

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