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Book Review ; “Home Fire” by Kamila Shamsie

Grief needed company, grief craved solitude; grief wanted to remember, wanted to forget; grief raged, grief whimpered.”

After having spent years being a devoted elder sister to her twin siblings, Isma Pasha is finally free to live her own life. But even this freedom is tainted with anxiety about her sister Aneeka’s safety, and haunting memories of her brother Parvaiz who embarked on the dangerous path their jihadist father had followed years ago. Amidst all this, the handsome Eamonn, who’s the son of the newly appointed home secretary of the United Kingdom, enters their lives, and sends everything into a whirlpool, and thus begins a tale that explores the lengths we go to for the ones we love.

Longlisted for 2017’s Man Booker Prize, Home Fire is a contemporary retelling of Sophocles’ Antigone. Kamila Shamsie wonderfully manages to add her own new elements to this Greek tragedy, while maintaining the core issues of the original. The characters created by the writer are immensely powerful; ones you get mad at, pray for and sympathize with. With Isma and Aneeka, Shamsie weaves two starkly different women with such headstrong views and determination that you can’t help but admire their courage.

The novel is far from being devoid of flaws, but what it lacks in unity, it more than makes up for with its fluidity. The feature that sparkles the most about Home Fire is Shamsie’s effortlessly marvelous writing. It grips you from the very first page and keeps the pace flowing. The story with its amalgamation of love, loss, betrayal, and sacrifice packs an evocative punch that’s bound to move you. Considering the political turmoil currently surrounding the world, this novel couldn’t have been released at a better time.

 

Rating: 4/5.

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