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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. Raheen and her best friend, Karim, share an idyllic childhood in upper-class Karachi.
What she uncovers reveals not ju Raheen and her best friend, Karim, share an idyllic childhood in upper-class Karachi. What she uncovers reveals not just a family's but a country's turbulent history-and a grown-up Raheen and Karim are caught between strained friendship and fated love.
A love story with a family mystery at its heart, Kartography is a dazzling novel by a young writer of astonishing maturity and exhilarating style. Shamsie transports us to a world we have not often seen in fiction-vibrant, dangerous, sensuous Pakistan. But even as she takes us far from the familiar, her story of passion and family secrets rings universally true.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 7th by Mariner Books first published October 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Kartography , please sign up. The events leading up to Zafar and Maheen's broken engagement have been well delineated, but I don't quite understand why Ali broke his engagement to Yasmin. Can anyone please explain? See 1 question about Kartography….
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Kartography. Kamila Shamsie is one of the best novelists I've ever read. Her grasp of craft is impressive, especially since she's now only published four novels, this one being her second.
Her characters are always multidimensional, and she's not afraid to make her narrator a bit unsympathetic at times or just good at making mistakes that make you frustrated, even while you keep reading because you want to find out that she fixes them eventually.
Her evocation of Pakistan both in during the at Kamila Shamsie is one of the best novelists I've ever read. Her evocation of Pakistan both in during the attack on what became Bangladesh and twenty-five years later, when Karachi was full of violence and chaos is detail-rich. She doesn't explain everything for readers unfamiliar with Pakistan's history, language, and culture, trusting that they're intelligent enough to figure things out from context or look up what they don't know!
The few Urdu words sprinkled throughout the text give readers a taste of Pakistani culture, which is clearly multilayered, class-conscious, and deeply influenced by its colonial past. An enthralling novel, a history lesson, a meditation on how the past never goes away. Sep 24, Aurina rated it it was ok.
The trouble with books that end poorly is that no matter how much you enjoyed the beginning, it's always those last few pages, that collapsed narrative, those damning passages that linger in your memory. You forget, several years later, how much you relished the first pages, how tightly the prose gripped you, how quickly you devoured it. And so when I slammed Kartography shut, exhausted by the redundance of its last pages, I tried to separate the beginning - that I did race through - f The trouble with books that end poorly is that no matter how much you enjoyed the beginning, it's always those last few pages, that collapsed narrative, those damning passages that linger in your memory.
And so when I slammed Kartography shut, exhausted by the redundance of its last pages, I tried to separate the beginning - that I did race through - from the sorely disappointing end. Sadly I realised that despite it being fast-paced, parts of Kartography grated on me from the very beginning. Kartography is the story of Karim and Raheen, two best friends growing up in an increasingly violent Karachi. Intriguingly and somewhat salaciously, Karim's father used to be engaged to Raheen's father and vice versa.
Despite this mysterious partner swap, the families remain admirably close. The only explanation from Raheen's father for this swap is that "the music changed. Against this suspenseful backdrop, Kartography is ostensibly a tale of children growing up in s Karachi, a period when the city was once again beset by ethnic strife. Frightened and frustrated by the violence, Karim's father decides to move the family to England, a decision that both separates the best friends and destroys Karim's parents' marriage.
For reasons that Raheen - and the reader - never fully understand, Karim is never the same again. Though they keep in touch, Karim is conflicted between his undeniable love for Raheen and a dark truth that gnaws at this helpeless love.
He develops an obsession with maps, as if by lending structure to Karachi's streets, he could make sense of his beloved, imploding home.
Shamsie does a decent job in driving home the irrational and fatal grasp of ethnic struggles, stressing that no one - no matter how upright - is immune from the madness of war.
While making this point, she often overexplains to the point of being didactic, but it's an important message, one relevant to all wars, not just the largely forgotten Pakistani civil war. Shamsie also evokes the constant struggle of expats between the staid comforts of the West and the love, loyalty and guilt that draws them back to their troubled homelands.
That said, one of my biggest gripes with the book from the very beginning was Shamsie's dialogue: It is unattractively witty.
Every character speaks with arch self-consciousness, meaning Shamsie clearly could not separate her own voice from that of her characters. The most glaring offender is the banter between the four teenagers. The dialogue between the kids - especially between Karim and Raheen, but Zia and Sonia were guilty too - was unrealistic and annoyingly precious. Maybe one precocious 13 year old could make jokes about kinky communist parties, but 4 precocious 13 year olds infusing their comments with casual socio-political references and scathing wit was a bit excessive.
The end result is that most of Shamsie's conversations are structurally really contrived, even if they are substantively interesting. Despite these irritations, I finished the book in one sitting, urgently wanting to solve the mystery behind the spouse swap. Shamsie builds up a crescendo that is enticing, making the reader desperate to know why Karim's mother and Raheen's father broke up, why they remained close friends and why this knowledge ultimately repels Karim away from Raheen.
Unfortunately, the denouement of this narrative is seriously underwhelming. Shamsie never adequately explains any of the characters' motivations or reactions.
Raheen harps on about being ashamed of the last letter she wrote to Karim, but I re-read it several times trying to figure out what was so offensive. Yasmin's forgiving nonchalance is lazily written. Ali's immunity from ethnic issues is never addressed. Zafar's hysteria is flat. Karim's hatred is warranted, but strangely uncompelling.
I kept waiting for more sinister revelations to come tumbling out, but they never did. Worst of all, the book continues for odd pages after this big climax. Here Shamsie's writing is clumsy and rudderless, never quite knowing how to make its way home, hysterically connecting every sub-plot and character to each other for no real reason. Still, Kartography isn't as bad as I am making it out to be. Shamsie clearly has a lot of talent. Her prose is lush with symbolism and shamelessly lovely in certain parts.
Never is her writing more incandescent than when she is describing Karachi. She writes, "It hits you in unexpected moments, this city's romance ; everywhere, air pockets of loveliness just when your lungs can't take anymore congestion or pollution or stifling newspaper headlines. I knew that there were so many reasons to fail to love it, to cease to love it, to be unable to love it, that it made love a fierce and unfathomable thing.
Perhaps this is because I am from a city but 2 hours away by air, a bitterly estranged sibling, but one that shares Karachi's turbulent history, frustrating filth, maddening chaos but most of all its inexplicable, heart-wrenching magnetism.
Kartography is not a perfect novel, but it is a quick read that is interesting in bits, frustrating in others; sometimes beautiful, other times blundering. I wouldn't write Shamsie off completely, though. If nothing else, her pained but beautiful description of Karachi compels me to search out more of her work. View 1 comment. Mar 14, Viv JM rated it it was amazing Shelves: author-female , zatw-winter-olympics-challenge , zauthor-female , favourites , fiction-literary , read-in , zatw-random-travel-challenge.
I loved this book. On the one hand, it's a story about love and friendships and growing up. On the other, it takes on much bigger themes - betrayal, forgiveness, morals. I don't know why I have never read Kamila Shamsie before, but I definitely want to read more of her work after reading this.
Love, betrayal, sacrifice... and humour
I should be the last person to be saying this, but there is often something off-putting about enthusiastic recommendations. In Kamila Shamsie's case, this is Orange's assertion that she is one of its "writers for the 21st century". Excuse us, you want to say, but we, and our descendants, will be the judges of that. And yet You will notice very quickly that you're reading a book by someone who can write. Write properly, that is, and not in the brain-dead argot of the con-temporary a few honourable exceptions British novel.
Speak in anagrams and lie spine to spine. They are irrevocably bound to one another and to Karachi, Pakistan, a city that is violent, polluted, corrupt, vibrant, brave and ultimately, home. As the years go by, they let a barrier of silence build between them until they are brought together during a summer of strikes and ethnic violence and their relationship stands poised between strained friendship and fated love. Kartography is about ties and bindings in relationships: between friends, between spouses and between a city and its people. As is wont to happen when you read books by the same author, I started comparing Kartography with Homefire and Burnt Shadows. Kartography starts with two 13 yr olds Raheen who is the narrator and Karim, her childhood friend, doing what precocious soon to be teenage children do: wonder aloud on a hundred myriad things, wary of the outer world around them and mindless of what is coming their ways.
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie
Olick Mallot Rather than mapping to define the outsider, Kartography ultimately seems to argue for what Kathleen M. Why did those bloody Muhajirs have to go and form a political group?