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Authors: Kamila Shamsie

A God in Every Stone

BOOK: A God in Every Stone
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Praise for
A God in Every Stone

‘Full of passion, life and intelligence, it is redemptive
uncompromising; it goes to the place where life and history meet to reveal them as each other. It reads already like a classic, with a timelessness, a wholeness, as if she just sensed it there at her feet, carefully unearthed it, brushed the soil off it, held it up to the light – and now we all have it. That’s how good’ Ali Smith, author of
The Accidental

‘Passionate … The novel ends with the Peshawar massacre of 1930, the narrative speeding up, almost whirling between different points of view as it depicts the terror on the streets, the violence and the chaos. Vivian retreats into the background, as we feel she must. What remains, like a beautiful bas-relief, is the image of the people of Peshawar honouring their dead, not with poppies but with red rose petals’ Michèle Roberts,

A God in Every Stone
is an ambitious piece of work, and its pages are lit by Shamsie’s eloquent prose. Her feeling for place is sensitive and sometimes exquisite … Shamsie’s passionate curiosity about how empires grow, collapse and die makes this a novel well worth reading’ Helen Dunmore,

‘This is a novel that’s far from run of the mill. The main characters and their storylines are strong enough in themselves, but they also combine very cleverly to build a dramatic climax’
Daily Mail

‘Shamsie’s new novel explore the issues of feminism’s first wave, including women’s suffrage and work during the first world war… Shamsie observes these events through a postcolonial lens … and this is a key part of what makes the novel so much more than just a thriller… Pakistan’s place in the world, and it’s becoming has altered people’s lives, drives her stories’

‘A fast-moving, well-researched story … A valuable reminder that the legacy of the Great War stretched far beyond Versailles’
Sunday Times

‘Burns with quiet ferocity in every elegant, measured line … A book about the echoes through history of loss, betrayal and the human cost of colonialism … This is no straightforward love story… Lyrical and furious,
A God in Every Stone
is fraught with tragedy: the tragedy of war, of betrayal, of lost loves and the tragic cost of colonialism and the fight for freedom. It is also a novel about what remains … Two women with only the most tenuous connections to the novel’s central characters are used to tell its weightiest stories about love, loss and the luminous human capacity for acts of beauty in the most appalling of circumstances. They contrast sharply with Viv, who in her wilful Western assumption of privilege, bears the brunt of much of Shamsie’s elegantly furious writing but between them they give this beautifully written, thought-provoking story the quality of an epic tale ****’

‘Gripping … The denouement is both dramatic and life-affirming… A welcome addition to the genre, Shamsie’s novel, drawing lines of connection across times and places evokes the past beautifully’
Financial Times

‘I love Shamsie’s beautiful painting with words’ Shami Chakrabarti,
Summer Reading

‘Kamila Shamsie’s powerful and gripping novel explores questions of love, loyalty and national identity’
Irish Times
Summer Reading

‘Rich … Increasingly urgent, ultimately devastating’
The Times

‘This gripping narrative captures the urgency of unearthing the secrets of the past in order to understand how it is shaping each present moment’

‘Exploration of the indomitability of the human spirit and divided loyalties. Elegant and atmospheric, it’s worthy and well-wrought’
Mail on Sunday

‘Shamsie is adept at excavating the past and braids of the personal and political to great effect. All the while she builds tension and keeps us guessing about the fate of her characters. The end result is both complex and spell-binding’
Independent on Sunday

‘My eyes pricked with tears several times as I read Kamila Shamsie’s new work’

A God in Every Stone
confirms Kamila Shamsie as a very rare and uniquely rewarding writer. She can brilliantly dramatize conflicts of characters and weave intricate and absorbing plots while also crisply fulfilling the newer, and indeed more formidable, obligations of the contemporary novelist: to set individual destinies in the enlarged and uneven arena of our globalized world’ Pankaj Mishra, author of
From the Ruins of Empire
An End to Suffering

‘Written with a delicate eye for detail, a novel where much happens but what stays with the reader is the author’s effortless prose’
Telegraph Kolkata

‘A novelist to reckon with and to look forward to… [Shamsie’s] prose is magical and every line draws you in and leaves you wanting more… Her voice is evocative and one is deeply and illogically nostalgic for a time never experienced’
New Indian Express Chennai

‘A rare novel that satisfies the demanding reader at both, the intellectual and emotional levels; that speaks as much to someone in Finsbury Park as it does to someone in Faridabad, Mulund or Marathalli,
A God in Every Stone
definitely confirms Kamila Shamsie’s place of honour in The Street of Storytellers’
Hindustan Times

‘Shamsie is adept at excavating the past and braids the personal and political to great effect. All the while she builds tension and keeps us guessing about the fate of her characters. The end result is both complex and spell-binding’
The Statesman (India)

‘Engaging, especially in its balance between suspense and scholarship – a page-turner in the best sense of the word’
Lounge, Mint, New Delhi

‘It is always a joy to read a novel by an accomplished writer. And Shamsie is certainly that and more … Her writing has a certain luminosity that imbue even the dreariest of situations with a grace that is as much muscular as it is fluid’ Anita Nair,
Asian Age, New Delhi

‘Her prose is beautiful, and her strong grasp of history makes it almost impossible to put the book down’
Mail Today

‘A stunning insight into the impact on the forgotten Indians who fought so valiantly for a foreign power. Shamsie’s prose travels through time and space to create a remarkable book’
India Today

‘Kamila’s research is impeccable, her knowledge of history and geography is excellent… She sweeps the reader into an ancient time, laying out ideas and concepts and moral questions with great finesse’
















For the sisters – Saman, Magoo, Maha


Author’s Note



For King and Country


July–August 1914

January–June 1915

April 1915

May–June 1915

City of Men, City of Flowers

July 1915

July–August 1915

July–September 1915

September 1915

November 1915

October–November 1915

March 1916



Twentieth-century Herodotus

April 1930

The Only Question

23 April 1930

23–24 April 1930

24 April 1930

24 April 1930

24 April 1930

25 April 1930

On the Street of Storytellers

23 April 1930

23 April 1930

23–25 April 1930

27 April 1930



End Note


A Note on the Author

By the Same Author

Author's Note

Ancient Caria, including the site of Labraunda, is in present-day Turkey. In 515
it lay at the western border of the Persian Empire; at the other end of the Empire, on the eastern border, was the settlement of Caspatyrus. The exact location of Caspatyrus has never been determined but some historians have placed it in or near Peshawar.


The greater part of Asia was discovered by Darius, who had wished to know where it was that the sea was joined by the River Indus (this being one of only two in the world which provides a habitat for crocodiles), and so sent ships with men on board whom he could trust to report back truthfully, including Scylax, a man from Caryanda. These duly set off from the city of Caspatyrus, in the land of Pactyike.


The Histories
, Herodotus

For King and Country


Fig leaves and fruit twirl in Scylax’s hands. As he turns the silver circlet round and round, animating the engravings, he imagines flexing his wrist and watching the headpiece skim down



                                                                                                                                                       desert of the mountain,

across the jewelled valley of streams and fields and fruit,

to land


in the muddied tributary along which it races towards the crocodile-filled Indus.


Beside the distant riverbank, his ship is a brown smear. His crew think him mad to have spent all night on the mountain; but why explain to them, if they don’t already understand, the wonder of waking with the sun and, in the clear morning air, looking upon the rushing course of the Indus which is laid out before him like an offering. He places the circlet on his head, runs his rough sailor’s hands over the delicate figs embossed on it – in honour of his homeland of Caria, where men are barbarians but the fruit is sweet. So the Persians say – and yet here he is, one of the barbarian men, entrusted to lead the most daring of missions in the Empire. No man has ever navigated the mighty Indus. No man has ever attempted it. Not even Odysseus.

BOOK: A God in Every Stone
8.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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