Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book review and giveaway: Kamila Shamsie's A God in Every Stone

Themes of imperialism, gender restrictions, and loyalty to country and self reverberate through Shamsie’s atmospheric novel, set amid international conflicts of the early twentieth century but with strong echoes of the distant past.

At its center are two people setting aside their old lives and beginning anew. Vivian Rose Spencer—a young Londoner equally entranced by archaeology and her older mentor, Tahsin Bey—returns to England from a Turkish dig after war breaks out in 1914. Hoping to find Tahsin again, she follows a clue in his last letter and travels to British-ruled Peshawar. In a separate tale, Qayyum Gul, a Pashtun soldier injured fighting for Britain, heads home.

Their paths intersect briefly but reunite in 1930, when violence erupts on Peshawar’s streets and they search desperately for a gifted young man important to them both. Interwoven throughout is a story of empire and betrayal from ancient Persia. Emphasizing ideas and setting over plot, the narrative has an epic sensibility and many moments of expressive brilliance, especially when describing the underlying presence of history.

This review first appeared in Booklist's July issue.  A God in Every Stone is published by Atavist Books in August in trade pb ($20) and e-book ($9.99).  The UK publisher is Bloomsbury.  If you're curious to learn more about the novel and the history behind its many settings, you can explore its dedicated website, which I think is gorgeous.

In addition, thanks to the book's publicist, I have a giveaway open for US readers.  If you'd like to win a copy of this new literary novel that follows the growth and fall of empires and takes a unique slant on the events of WWI, please fill out the following form.  Deadline Friday, August 1st.  I'll announce the winner here on this page shortly afterward.

8/2/14:  The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Linda B! A copy of the novel is on its way to you.

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