Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – Book Review

One place that I often go to for book recommendations is the Bailey’s Prize for Literature in the UK (and the Stella Prize in Australia). These are prizes for female writers and I like to know what books are being written. So I come to Home Fire, the winner of the Bailey’s and was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2017 (another good source for contemporary fiction).

Isma has spent many years raising her younger siblings after their father and later their mother died. Now they are adults, she returns to the US (from her home in the UK) to complete her studies. But the whole time, she is worried about her siblings. Parvaiz has gone to pursue his mission in life and Aneeka is left behind, lost without her brother.

I didn’t realise this was a retelling of Antigone (I’ve just found this now looking up details online) and now I feel that I want to revisit both. It certainly did have that Greek tragedy feel about it. I really liked the way Shamsie dripfeeds information to us. It takes a long time to learn what has happened to Parvaiz and why, about their family history, and about their place in the world. She has a beautiful writing style and somehow makes familiar a situation which is pretty unrelatable to many of us.

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