Kamila Shamsie has written five novels, though I’ve not read her previously myself. Her Granta piece, ‘Vipers’, is set during the First World War, and focuses on Qayyum, a Pashtun drafted into the British Indian Army, who loses an eye at Ypres and is sent to convalesce in Brighton. For one thing, the passages describing Qayyum’s injury are agonisingly vivid. On a more thematic level, Shamsie presents Qayyum as an unworldly sort who gets caught up in webs of bureaucracy and power that he can’t perceive, both in the army and afterwards. ‘Vipers’ is extracted from Shamsie’s forthcoming novel, and it has me intrigued.
This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4. Click here to read the rest.