Title: Home Fire
Author: Kamila Shamsie
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.
Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!
“EVERYTHING ELSE YOU CAN LIVE AROUND, BUT NOT DEATH. DEATH YOU HAVE TO LIVE THROUGH.”
Home Fire is one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve read this year and it rightfully deserves its place on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize. Written in the third person perspective, the book follows the interlinking lives of five characters, each with their own interpretation of what it means to be British-Muslim.
Isma Pasha is the young British-Muslim woman whose views I most aligned with. The novel opens with an airport interrogation during her journey to Massachusetts to finally continue her studies, and it’s an all too familiar and timely scene in the wake of Trump’s travel ban. Isma and her younger twin siblings, Aneeka and Parvaiz, clearly demonstrate the diversity within Muslim communities around the world. Some women choose to wear hijab. Some women don’t. Some women are quiet and reserved, but others, like Aneeka, are headstrong. Some men are steadfast in their faith. Some men become distanced. But others, like Parvaiz, are vulnerable to radicalisation.
In the shadow of their father’s past and brother’s future, the Pasha family are central to the novel, living under the watchful eye of the Home Secretary. Yet, Karamat Lone and his son, Eammon, are given just as equal importance. The dynamics between the characters in both families, as well as with each other – father and son, siblings and lovers – were realistically portrayed.
The writing is also commendable and by the time Aneeka’s chapter in the story began, it became evident that Kamila Shamsie is quickly becoming a favourite author of mine. What the plot lacks in action is excused by the honest portrayal of the characters and conflict, something that will appeal to frequent readers of contemporary fiction. In my honest opinion, this book is a must-read. Timely, powerful and thought-provoking, it’s likely to stay with you for a very long time.