Home Fire: A Novel
In her latest novel, Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie crafts a timely novel about secrets, misjudgments, and conflicted loyalties. After leaving London to attend school in Amherst, Massachusetts, Isma is consumed with concern for her twin siblings, Aneeka and Parvaiz, who she lovingly cared for following the death of their mother. Intent on following the legacy of their jihadist father, who died following torture in Afghanistan, Parvaiz is recruited to join ISIS and is sent to Syria to work for a media team; however, he realizes the seriousness of the situation he has stumbled into and wishes to return home. He seeks help from Aneeka, whose love affair with Eammon, the son of Karamat Lone, Britain’s new Home Secretary, may be the key to getting Parvaiz home. Though Shamsie relied on Sophocles’ Antigone for inspiration, Home Fire stands firmly on its own as a gorgeous, devastating, and thoughtful book.
Home Fire is made up of five sections, each one written from the view of a leading character. Shamsie’s ability to empathize with her characters, especially the young men who are drawn into radicalization, is heartbreakingly compelling. Shamsie also shows prowess as a writer of naturally flowing and engaging dialogue, particularly in the opening scene, in which she explores the aggressions often made toward Muslims in airports. Home Fire gently simmers at the start, though it eventually builds to a rapid boil that leads to a remarkable ending.