"From an internationally acclaimed novelist, the suspenseful and heartbreaking story of a family ripped apart by secrets and driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother's death, an invitation from a mentor in America has allowed her to resume 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. When he resurfaces half the globe away, Isma's worst fears are confirmed. Then Eamonn enters the sisters' lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to--or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz's salvation? Suddenly, two families' fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?"--
Similar in this library
Each section of the novel is narrated by one of the principal characters, and the timing of each narrative overlaps somewhat. The reader experiences events from different perspectives, and can connect the details in each narrative into a story that is not fully visible to those involved. Tension mounts as Parvaiz’s activities unfold, and as Aneeka’s relationship with Eamonn inevitably sees the light of day. The novel delivers a climax that I absolutely didn’t see coming. Despite the horrifying content, the final pages are brilliantly written and cap off a stellar work.
In America, Isma meets Eamonn, the son of an important Muslim politician in England (soon to be Home Secretary). Unknown to Eamonn, his father, a thoroughly secularized and assimilated Muslim, had in the past refused to help Isma and her family with the problems they faced when her father was determined to be a jihadist. Although Isma is romantically attracted to Eamonn, he feels only a brotherly relationship toward her.
While Isma was in America, Parvaiz has been seduced by ISIS recruiters, and disappears. The family are devastated. Then when Aneeka meets Eamonn, who has returned to Englan, they begin a torrid relationship--the question is whether it is true love, or does Aneeka have ulterior motives because Eamonn's family is so politically powerful. Events propel the two families inexorably toward the future, and the reader will have to decide whether the ending is transcendent or tragic. (Hint--Shamsie has stated that the novel is based on the drama Antigone.)
The novel is narrated in several sections, each from the pov of one of the primary characters--Isma, Eamonn, Parvaiz, Aneeka, and Karamat Lone, the Home Secretary and Eamonn's father. It is a thoughtful look at issues of immigration, terrorism, and our reactions (or overreactions) to terrorism and the pain caused to the innocent because of our fears. This is the first book I have read by Shamsie but I will be reading more.
4 1/2 stars
The novel starts out slowly paced, rather inoculously, as a young Muslim women, who has spent many years raising her two twin siblings. Now that they are old enough, Isma decides it is time to complete her interrupted education. The family!y of three has long been under the surveillance of the British Security service as their father was a known jihadist, who died on the way to Guantanamo.
We learn about the methods used to recruit young people, usually 18 or 19, to the Islamic terrorist cause. The novel is narrated in alternating chapters by the five main characters. Each succeeding chapter is more intense, and by the time we hear from Aneeka, this story had radically changed, become super charged, very intense. The novel displays a confidence not only in prose but in how the story is related, which I found extremely effective.Complex issues. Love of family, youthful mistakes, how much can be forgiven. Government stances versus family, fear versus love, and the difficulties of Muslims, how they must act to fit in with society.
Long listed for the Booker, I find tis a very worthy addition. U forgettable, some of the visuals displaying a sisters love I don't think I will forget.
ARC from edelweiss.
Buzz may already have told you that Shamsie's latest novel is a modern-day
British Home Secretary Karamat Lone is a politician with his sites on the Prime Minister's seat. He married a wealthy American designer whose money helped propel him to power. Once there, he decided that the best way to advance in his career would be to turn his back on the Muslim community, which he has done with a vengeance. Daughter Emily is away at an American university, and son Eamonn is a handsome, charming, but rather aimless young man. When members of the two families meet, relationships become complicated, and, if you know the story of Antigone, you won't be wrong to expect a tragic turn.
I've had mixed feelings about some of Shamsie's earlier novels, and I wasn't too sure about this one as well. However, the further I got into the story, the more engaged I became. The book is divided into sections devoted to the viewpoints of the main characters (Isma, Eamonn, Parvaiz, Aneeka, and Karamat). The first section is mostly setup and goes rather slowly, although it does establish the relationships among the Pasha siblings and brings Eamonn into the picture. As his seemingly strange but passionate relationship with Aneeka develops, the plot thickens, and by the time I reached Aneeka's section, I could not put the book down until I finished the novel. That part is not a simple straightforward narrative, as are the others: its short section consists of some brief but beautiful poetry, salacious newspaper reports, TV news voice-overs, and official government statements, all of which help to build the tension and lead to an unexpected conclusion.
Home Fire was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, and rightfully so; I'm rather surprised and quite disappointed that it didn't make it to the short list. Shamsie has come into her own with this novel, her best so far, in my opinion.
Even knowing that inspiration, you are not totally spoiled for the book as the exact family connections and fates are not completely identical. You will have a sense of imminent tragedy in any case without perhaps knowing the precise events and individuals who will be affected.
I found "Home Fire" to be engaging and very readable and even when the inspiration becomes clear it was still completely engrossing. This was especially so despite its multi-character POV style which is normally not my favourite type of writing. Shamsie tells her story from several characters' POVs as each of them becomes the central figure for a period of time. The progression felt completely suited and appropriate to the story.
The story revolves around 2 British families whose parents immigrated from Pakistan. The conflict comes when they cross paths. In one family a young son becomes a jihadist and in the other they are giving up all their roots as much as possible. The first half of the novel is so deeply rooted at the character level while the second half becomes becomes more about the community and their place in a world of turmoil.
I can't give away the ending but I've got questions! If anyone has read it I want to discuss.
Isma Pasha followed her dream to America leaving behind her elegant sister Aneeka and her vulnerable yet impressionable brother Parvaiz. Eamonn, the son
There is a nice balance in this novel between the Pasha family whose father Adil, had been a jihadi and had gone to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and died for his beliefs, and Home Secretary Karamat Lone a traditionalist and yet a reformer. He loathed those citizens irrespective of beliefs or culture..."who treated the privilege of British citizenship as something that could be betrayed without consequences"...and further..."I hate the Muslims who make people hate Muslims"......
I can understand why Home Fire was the winner of the Women's Prize for fiction 2018 and whilst the first part of this novel was a little reticent and slow to impress the second half presented neatly formulated ideas and beliefs all leading to a very sudden unexpected conclusion. Home Fire is a story of the modern world and shows what happens when the corrupt and misguided prey on the weak and receptive.
From the opening pages, I was very much invested in this story. Isma's trials at the airport and her perspective of her life at an American university were engaging. Even as her story shifted toward little more than a conservation between her and another character at a coffee shop, I was eager to see where this story was going. I was ready to go with Isma on her journey.
Then the story shifted and became Eamonn's, then Parvaiz's. There was absolutely nothing wrong with each shift and all put together the five narratives make a good story. It's just that some were more engaging than others. Some characters I wanted to be fleshed out more. Some—especially Isma (maybe Karamat)—deserved their very own novel. This is especially true since Isma dominates the first fifty-five pages and then drops back to be little more than a secondary character to the love and politics than envelop the remaining four. Home Fire deals heavily in the subjects of love—both romantic and familial—politics, and religion. That place in between these topics where all things get messy is where you find Home Fire.
Overall, Kamila Shamsie's latest is a stupendous novel and it's a shame that it did not make it on the Man Booker shortlist. It was one of my personal favorites from the longlist, it is both intelligently written and highly readable. The writing style is simple but effective. The story always moves forward. Yes, it is uneven. Also, some of the plot points lack a bit of believability at times, but I don't feel like the novel hinged on realism. I would've enjoyed the story more had it gone in a different direction or been handled a little differently, but I was not displeased at all. My interest in the author has been sparked and I hope to read more of her work soon.
“For girls, becoming women was inevitability, for boys, becoming men was ambition.”
The story is grippingly told though five family narrators in a relatively sequential manner and works well at conveying the issues
My reservation is that the story is told to tell the author's specific story, rather than letting the story develop more organically from the characters and because of this, although the characters are well described, they come across as somewhat representative, rather than individual.
There are many vivid images and quotable passages, but I especially liked this about bushy beards:
"ecosystem beards (Aneeka had named them): large enough to support an ecosystem"
Well worth reading, but difficult to describe without spoilers.
Antigone is of course the obvious subtext, but what struck me were the parallels between the Muslim politician/minister in this tale and free negro abolitionists in pre-Civil War U.S., both struggling to resolve an impossible moral dilemma: is the “correct” path to assimilation through forceful insistence upon equal treatment, or is it through embracing law & order, even if it means abiding by laws that penalize one’s own race? The Pakistani-heritage British minister in this case chooses the later course, with predictably tragic consequences – predictable because, of course, Antigone is one of Sophocles’ great tragedies, so anyone going into this hoping for a “happily ever after” would have to be sadly naive.
Shamsie literally steps back and lets the characters tell their own tale, turning over each chapter to a different player in the tragedy who narrates their portion of the tale in first person. Which doesn’t mean Shamsie isn’t shaping the way we perceive the tale in more subtle ways: the language and setpieces she evokes are laden with connotation, from the opening chapter in which the eldest girl, Isma, debates whether emptying her suitcase in neat piles or dumping the clothes out haphazardly will seem less suspicious to the airport security personnel who are detaining her as she tries to enter the U.S. on a student visa, to the novel’s aching conclusion in which a grieving sister wailing over the body of her dead brother seems to summon up from the earth a howling dust storm.
I whizzed through this relatively short but powerful novel in less than a day, which I haven’t done in a long time; more than that, however, this is proving one of those books that inspires connections with real events and provokes different ways of perceiving familiar ideas. The fact that I find that surprising probably means that I’m the one that’s sadly naïve: whether the year is 441 BC or 2020 AD, it shouldn’t surprise me that tragedy is one literary theme that never ceased to haunt us.
Well, I could have done without this being a contemporary reselling of Antigone, as I'm really not a fan of rehashing the old fables in modern form. Still, I was pretty much able to ignore the comparisons and take the story at face value - a tragic tale of fundamentalism and its
I read this because the author was attending our local Lit Fest, and I'm glad I did. It depicted the struggles of an immigrant family that, to all intents and purposes, had become British, yet their beliefs and values still undermined their every move and influenced their thoughts.
The eldest member of the family, Isma, has been caring for her younger siblings since their mother died. Now that they are older, Isma finally has the opportunity to do something for herself; to accept an invitation to carry out research in America under a much respected mentor. However, she still worries about her younger sister, Aneeka, and Aneeka's twin brother, Parvais. Aneeka can be reckless and foolish, while Parvais has been missing, believed to be attempting to follow in his father's fanatical footsteps.
When Isma meets Eamon, son of a powerful MP, and sends him to her family with a package to post, she opens up a can of worms that has no lid.
The fall-out from this event is cataclysmic, as the characters spiral downwards into their own black holes and Isma tries desperately to hold the family together.
Definitely a powerful read, a book of our times.
Also read, by the same author: Burnt Shadows (5*)
The book is told from varying
The character of the Home Secretary was probably the least nuanced in the novel and I wanted to hear more about what his wife really thought. The novel explored the different choices made by British Muslims and the issues faced by them.
Isma has taken her mother's place for years. Now she can accept the invitation to study in America. Still she is concerned about Aneeka, her lovely sister in London, and their brother, Parvaiz, who is following his own dream. Alas
Strong writing, strong characters, and a bomb of an ending. A good read for those struggling to understand ISIS and a good book for those who like a powerful story.
This novel is very timely and addresses issues of today. In the novel, the British Home Secretary wants to remove citizenship from UK citizens who join terrorist groups, something we see discussed by governments today. The idea of leaving people stateless is something that disturbs me. The author has shown what families will do to protect loved ones -- whether by assimilation, working with authorities or other more controversial means. Very well written and thought-provoking.