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Reasons why Kamila Shamsie’s Kartography stands out

Kamila Shamsie is a popular novelist in the postmodern era of Pakistani English Literature. Her writing themes are mostly about search for identity and political crisis, depicted through the characters and setting of her novel. Moreover, Karachi is depicted as violent and destructive but a cosmopolitan city. Kartography (2002), means map-making or map drawing. Title is written with “K” instead of C, because of Karim’s (main character) obsession with map-making and his name, plus the name of city Karachi.

Kartography depicts the conflict of 1971’s civil war, leading towards the ethnic and racial differences, which separated East Pakistan from West Pakistan. It is not just a story of friendship and separation, rather it reveals that maps not only marks the different regions but also form bridges between here and there, disconnect areas, people and relationships and chart the cultural, ethnic and racial differences.

Search for lost identity, due to political upheaval is the main theme of the this novel. However, almost every novel of Shamsie contains the same subject. Furthermore, she paints Karachi as a threatening and hostile metropolis, being a diverse city with distinct racial and ethnic groups and a city full of disputes leading towards violence and bloodshed.

Nevertheless, the beautiful city of Karachi can be described in a positive way with so much diversity, in terms of people, culture, language, tradition and values. Though Shamsie has touched a very serious issue, however, only the issues of elite class are discussed.

The words like, Suno Yar, Dekho, oh khuda, aisay-wesay show the use of Urduized English, making the novel more attractive. Nonetheless, the technique of flashbacks somehow confuses the reader.

The reviewer recommends that it is “a must read” novel due to its subject matter and therefore, can be read for amusement, as well as, academic purposes.”

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