Kamila Shamsie has been garnering accolades ever since her debut novel, In the City by the Sea , in 1998, aged 25. Since then the Pakistani-born Britain-based novelist and columnist has written four more acclaimed novels, including her Orange Prize-shortlisted 2009 novel Burnt Shadows . In 2013, Shamsie was named one of Granta 's top 20 British writers. She is renowned for tackling pressing political questions in her fiction, which has been translated into 20 languages. Her sixth novel, A God in Every Stone , tells of a young Englishwoman, Vivian Spencer, who embarks on a quest to find an ancient Persian artefact in Peshawar, just as Britain's imperial reign crumbles. She talks to Bron Sibree A God in Every Stone cleverly entwines Vivian's unorthodox quest to find an ancient artefact with a wider story of love, war and resistance culminating in the infamous 1930s massacre at Peshawar's storytellers market. Tell us about this. One of the first things I knew was that the story would involve the massacre, but that there would also be an artefact belonging to Scylax that would somehow get caught up in the drama of what was going on. Scylax was a fascinating character. Aristotle referred to him and Herodotus said Scylax was trusted by the emperor Darius and sent on this important mission to go down the River Indus. What he wrote about India formed the basis of the Greek and the Persian imagination about India for a very long time. Tell us about this massacre and the Pashtun non-violence movement of the 1930s and '40s in Pakistan. It's one of those curious things. I grew up in Pakistan and I studied a lot of history and I didn't know or hear about this massacre, where around 400 members of the Khudai Khidmatgar - a Pashtun group committed to overthrowing British rule by nonviolent methods - were gunned down in the storytellers market, or Qissa Khwani Bazaar, in Peshawar. It was at the time one of the defining moments of the anti-colonial struggle and quite a shocking thing. It was one of the first big massacres of unarmed people and if you read news reports in England or the debates in parliament at that time, it really had resonance. But it has been largely forgotten. To India it's a Pakistan story and to Pakistan it's a story of people who don't quite fit into the Pakistan narrative. Why is that? Because the founder of the non-violent movement, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, was allied to Mahatma Gandhi. He opposed the creation of Pakistan, so the Pakistani state never wanted to claim him. Therefore, this story about what happened to his followers is not one that official Pakistani history wants to record. Ghaffar Khan devised a sophisticated idea of non-violence. He realised that to appeal to the Pashtuns - or the Pathans, which is the name the British gave them - he had to draw on their own beliefs. So he drew on both Islam and the Pashtun or Pathan code, Pashtunwali, to say "this is why non-violence makes sense and is the way forward". He was immensely popular and - this is the interesting part - he still is. There's no other Pashtun leader who inspires anything like the same reverence as this man who told them to put down their guns. So it's a really interesting story, particularly now when the stereotype of the Pathans as a violent people is so prevalent and so closely associated with the Taliban. How did growing up in a family of writers during the years of General Muhammad Zia's dictatorship shape you as a writer? Books were an important part of the household. I think I became a writer because I loved novels. My first obsession and my first love in life is the novel. So I'd like to think that being a novelist would have happened wherever, but the kind of novelist I became has to do with where and how I grew up, and the politics of the place. My memories of growing up are very happy, but my political memory goes back to being four years old which was the year of Zia's coup and I had an uncle who was put under house arrest because he was a pro-democracy politician. Tell us about this extraordinary flowering of Pakistani writing in English in recent years. For me, the crucial date was 1988 when Zia died. The '90s is the decade when things started to happen, then there was the extraordinary 2008-2010 period when Mohammed Hanif 's A Case of Exploding Mangoes , Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist , Nadeem Aslam's The Wasted Vigil , Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders were all released and I published Burnt Shadows , and these five books all got onto prize lists. But I think what's happening now is more important, which is not that there are five books on prize shortlists but that we're getting a lot more Pakistani writers. They may not be getting the same kind of attention, but their numbers are growing every year.