- Publisher: Bloomsbury
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1408847205
- ISBN-13: 978-1408847206
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,794,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A God in Every Stone Hardcover
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The Amazon Book Review
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"Stretching from the ancient Persian Empire to the waning days of the British Empire, the novel has an enormous wingspan that catches a wonderful storyteller's wind beautifully composed, and often terribly moving." Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR
I can’t recommend A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie too stronglythis is her best novel yet, which is high praise to give to the author of Burnt Shadows . . . The narrative moves to the struggle for Indian independence and the boy she befriends, against custom of culture and class, in a subtle tapestry in which love, history and archaeology all have their place. Exciting and, in the end, profoundly moving, this will solace you during the grimmest holiday.” Antonia Fraser, author of Marie Antoinette: The Journey, Guardian Summer Reading
A God in Every Stone has strong storytelling and is a page-turner that is also a literary delight.” Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit and The Daylight Gate, Guardian Summer Reading
It is a magnificent novel: beautiful, terrible, true. Full of passion, life and intelligence, it is redemptive and 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 lightand now we all have it. That's how good.” ALI SMITH, author of The Accidental and Hotel World
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 and An End to Suffering
This sixth novel by one of the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, which burns with quiet ferocity in every elegant, measured line, is a book about the echoes through history of loss, betrayal and the human cost of colonialism. . . . Beautifully written, thought provoking . . . Epic.” TINA JACKSON, Metro (London)
An absolutely wonderful novel I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she didn’t win some sort of prestigious prize with it.” ANDREAS WHITTAM SMITH, founder and former editor of The Independent, BBC Radio 4, Saturday Review” (London)
"I was absolutely blown away by this book. . . . A stunning novel . . . This is about how social and political forces are bigger than the individual. ” BIDISHA SK MAMATA, journalist for The Guardian and The Huffington Post, and Booker Prize Foundation Trustee, BBC Radio 4, Saturday Review” (London)
About the Author
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If you didn’t gather from that, I’m a fan. This has been on my TBR pile since March but I resisted starting it, both because I was being drawn into the new (to me) world of translated fiction and because when I hear that a book is a colonial-era tale about an English woman and a ‘native’ man, my expectations are that I’ve heard that story before. Which just goes to show how foolish it is to judge a book by our pre-conceived assumptions. We’ve heard every story before. What sets ‘A God in Every Stone’ apart is the depth of its characters and the nuances it brings to their loyalties and values. Plus, while it might be about a woman and a man, it isn’t a romance.
The book spans the time between July 1914, just before the outbreak of WWII, and April 1930, and tells the story of an English woman, Vivian Rose Spencer, an archeologist who travels to Peshawar in search of ancient Persian circlet which holds a special meaning for her; Qayyam Gul, a Pashtun soldier in the British army who returns home uncertain about his loyalties; and his younger brother, Najeeb, who is entranced by Vivian Rose’s stories of the Pashtun’s past.
Politically this is the time when India’s independence movement is on the rise, and change is on the horizon, both in England and in Peshawar, with the struggles, heartache and loss which inevitable accompany political upheaval. The strength of the characters in the book comes from their divided loyalties. Vivian Rose is a modern woman with a passion for archeology and an independent bent, but she is opposed to the suffragettes’ cause. Although she doesn’t share the worst of the colonial attitudes towards the Pashtun locals, she isn’t pro-independence, instead believing that the rule of Empire is necessary to modernize and ‘civilise’.
“The rage she felt on behalf of the women of the Peshawar Valley as she sweltered beneath the voluminous burqa dispelled any ambivalence she might have started to feel about Indian demands for self-rule. All these Indians talking about political change when really what this country desperately needed was social change. Why should they be allowed independence when they only wanted it for half of the population?”
Vivian Rose is the most vividly drawn character, but Qayyam and Najeeb have their own internal struggles, and the directions the two brothers take – one towards peaceful resistance, the other drawn to archeology, work well to highlight the difficulties of both sides. Qayyam cannot trust the motives of the English, while Najeeb is enthralled by the glories of the past, and neither can fully understand the other’s positon.
“Of all the fantastic tales you’ve ever told, none is more fantastic than that of the kindly English who dig up our treasures because they want you to know your own history. Your museums are all part of their Civilising Mission, their White Man’s burden, their moral justification for what they have done here.”
At the heart of the story is the Peshawar valley, the beauty of the city and the mountains (‘oh everywhere, the mountains! Dark green, almost black, mountains; blue mountains; rose-coloured mountains; and away in the distance, snow-topped mountains’), and the culture of its people. Nothing is idolized or glorified, and we are left to make our own decisions. Oh, there are holes you can pick in places, but there are always holes you can pick in places. After a few months of reading which has been largely focused on style, it was a refreshing reminder than excellence can also come from great characters and a good plot. For myself, I can’t wait to read another Shamsie.
So if you are looking to richly explore the complex globalizations of the early 20th century, with some love and rebellion and gender politics and anticolonialism in the mix, then this is your book.