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Home Fire [Hardcover] KAMILA SHAMSIE Hardcover – August 23, 2017
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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- Item Weight : 14.1 ounces
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9386606658
- ISBN-13 : 978-9386606655
- Product Dimensions : 7.87 x 5.51 x 1.57 inches
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing (August 23, 2017)
- Language: : English
Best Sellers Rank:
#2,960,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Home Fire, long listed for this year’s Mann Booker Prize, is Kamila Shamsie’s much acclaimed 7th novel, and the first of hers I’ve read though I’ve long admired her essays. Shamsie uses the old Greek myth about Antigone, to underpin a very modern story following a British Pakistani family based in London. Note: I would recommend not re-reading Antigone beforehand unless you want spoilers to almost every plot point in the book (I refreshed my failed memory afterwards ).
Isma Pasha is in her late 20s, quiet and hard working, about to start a graduate program in the States. Her life is finally in her own hands after helping raise her much younger siblings, twins Aneeka (the headstrong beautiful one) and Parvaiz (the dangerously aimless one). Their parents are long dead, their father a jihadist, often absent through their childhood, yet still a powerful pull. The handsome son of a controversial political figure in London enters their lives, and the novel races from taut beginning to shocking end.
“For girls, becoming women was inevitability; for boys, becoming men was ambition.”
Shamsie is a brilliant psychological writer, and her characters inhabit class, race, and gender in varying and vivid states. The scenes are sharply and finely drawn, the dialogue precise and clever, and the plot vibrates with increasing intensity. There is a bit of hysteria and Hollywood overblown-ness towards the end, though in fairness, Greek tragedies aren't exactly understated either. Neither, for that matter, is the war on terror or the war on the west. I'm also a little over fraternal boy-girl twins being portrayed as mind-meld ESP close.
One of the most powerful lessons Home Fire drove home for me was how the government programs that pursue and punish home grown radicals end up devastating their families. Isma barely knew her father, and her younger siblings never even met him, yet his jihadist life and mysterious death haunt them long after, not just psychologically, but legally, logistically, inescapably. Rifts are created within their family and community, educational and professional ambitions are disrupted, their very movement through the world thwarted. It’s terrifying to see these effects ripple through and to begin to understand how Muslim communities, and by racist conflation, people of color, are affected by Western anti-terrorism programs and policies.
Home Fire is a novel for our times, stretching from family ties and community to the wider sweep of global terrorism, religion and radicalism, immigration and nativism, and what we do for love and war. The book will keep you turning pages, but moreover, its gift is its resonance, making the intimate a deeply political act, and the political honing unerringly home.
A narcissistic, ambitious politician (Karamat-Creon) opposes the brave woman, in his pride and insecurity. Her lover (Eamonn-Haemon), the politician's son, eloquently pleads to his father on her behalf. His wife (Teresa-Eurydice) appeals to the politician's best self, his needs, and his desires. The media-chorus reflects popular judgments. Love and loyalty are compelling, in diverse relationships, but pride leads to tragedy, inevitably.
Shamsie's characters are richly developed and complex - especially the sisters. The women are strong and intelligent, passionate and dignified. Social tensions and cultural conflicts deepen the reader's empathy and understanding. This book is a pleasure, in language and imagery, intellectually and emotionally.
Isma, the eldest sister, a devout Muslim and the head of her British family, has practically raised her younger sister Aneeka and brother Parvaiz, who are twins. Their mother and grandmother have passed away. Isma has gone away to graduate school in the States. Parvaiz has left town to supposedly travel, while Aneeka is pursuing a law degree. They know only anecdotes of their deceased jihadi father who left to fight in Afghanistan.
Isma meets Eammon, the handsome son of the home secretary, once a rival of her father’s, who has denounced his Muslim background, married to a wealthy American, and worked his way up the political system. Eammon infiltrates, by accident or perhaps not, her family back in London and hooks up with the younger sister. When he tells his father of his impending plans, all hell breaks loose.
This is the real world. Where ISIS is stronger than young love. Family members take sides. And politics have the upper hand in the modern world.
Top reviews from other countries
There's a sense of slowly moving towards the inevitable ending which I hate. I want to shout stop at them all.
Good writing but disturbing subject.
Knowing my Ancient Greek literature I did have a sense of the overall direction this would take.
Shamsie has used this as her foundation for a powerful story about the radicalization of a young man and its ramifications.
During the section where Parvaiz is radicalized I was actually able to understand the appeal for him of this cause even if the reality opened his eyes.
Epic in scale yet intimate.
The book is a modern re-telling of the Greek tragedy Antigone. A knowledge of Antigone isn't necessary but it does add an extra dimension to the read.
Aneeka and Parvaiz are twins. They grew up knowing their dead father, a jihadist, as a silence. When their mother dies they are brought up by their older sister, Isma.
When the twins reach adulthood, Isma decides to move to America to continue her studies. This move and Aneeka's enrollment in University sets a series of events in motion that lead to Parvaiz travelling to Syria.
The story is interesting and thought-provoking. The radicalization of Parvaiz flows in a logical, natural way indicating how vulnerable some young men are in certain circumstances.
The conflict between love and family versus duty and social responsibility is well explored. The book also highlights the "image" problems Muslims have and how their culture and actions are perceived by non-Muslims.