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Best of Friends



by Kamila Shamsie

Chosen as Book of 2022 by The Guardian, Observer, Daily Mail and Financial Times

‘The spirit of Elena Ferrante haunts this tale of a friendship forged in Karachi’ – Sunday Times

‘A profound novel about friendship. I loved it to pieces’ – Madeline Miller

‘A shining tour de force’ – Ali Smith, Guardian Summer Reading


Sometimes it was as though the forty years of friendship between them was just a lesson in the unknowability of other people…

Maryam and Zahra.

In 1988 Karachi, two fourteen-year-old girls are a decade into their friendship, sharing in-jokes, secrets and a love for George Michael. As Pakistan’s dictatorship falls and a woman comes to power, the world suddenly seems full of possibilities. Elated by the change in the air, they make a snap decision at a party. That night, everything goes wrong, and the two girls are powerless to change the outcome.

Zahra and Maryam.

In present-day London, two influential women remain bound together by loyalties, disloyalties, and the memory of that night, which echoes through the present in unexpected ways. Now both have power; and both have very different ideas of how to wield it… Their friendship has always felt unbreakable; can it be undone by one decision?

About the book

A dazzling new novel of friendship, identity and the unknowability of other people – from the international bestselling author of Home Fire, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

About the author

Kamila Shamsie was born and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. Her most recent novel Home Fire won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018. It was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017, shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award, and won the London Hellenic Prize. She is the author of six previous novels including Burnt Shadows, shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and A God in Every Stone, shortlisted for the Women’s Bailey’s Prize and the Walter Scott Prize. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. Kamila Shamsie is a Fellow and Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature and was named a Granta Best of Young British Novelist in 2013. She is professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. She lives in London.


‘A new Kamila Shamsie novel is always worth celebrating, but Best of Friends is something else: an epic story that explores the ties of childhood friendship, the possibility of escape, the way the political world intrudes into the personal, all through the lens of two sharply drawn protagonists’ Observer, Books of the Year 2022

“Rich and deeply personal. . . .  In poetic prose, Shamsie details the small ways friends imprint themselves on each other: the secrets shared, the mutual pop-star crushes, the books passed between them, how a best friend can become a fixture in a family home.” — Los Angeles Times

“[A] captivating portrayal of two women trying to learn whether a once-treasured friendship can overcome differences.” — The Washington Post

“Unputdownable.” — Real Simple

“[A] frothy, sweet novel . . . .  What seems like a straightforward friendship tale keeps you guessing.” Hollywood Reporter

“Sophisticated and poignant. . . . [brings] exquisite nuance [to its] depiction of long-lasting friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Shamsie is superb at interweaving personal dilemmas and political realities. . . . Her continually surprising story, in which repercussions have further repercussions, vibrates with contemporary concerns, from social media privacy to immigration. The novel also wisely observes the enigmatic nature of longtime friendships. . . and shows how female power transforms over time. The protagonists will stay in readers’ minds long after this piercingly honest novel concludes.” Booklist (starred)


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