"Home Fire" by Kamila Shamsie

By Shamsie, Kamila

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9780735217690

I am always delighted to step into a story of which I know nothing other than a friend's strong recommendation; I find the experience akin to a travel detour. "Homefire" by Kamila Shamsie is an unnerving, delicate study of how behavior detours in proximity to love, belief, family and fear. Winner of the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction, Shamsie gives us a modern retelling of a Greek tragedy I will not identify so as to not spoil the ending - post-read, this bit of information reveals the author's plotlines to be remarkably crafted.  Our story begins in the present day, with Isma in Boston and Aneeka in London, two very different young middle-class muslim sisters, respectively quiet and outspoken, conservative and provocative.  Their sensitive brother Parvaiz, who almost always carries a microphone to record soundscapes such as birds and trains, has disappeared.  His existence is proven only by alerts to Isma's skype that he is online, and Aneeka's assurance that from time to time he is "checking in". The sisters become concerned that Parvaiz is on the trail of their long lost father, a jihadist who left his son with photos of himself and of other men smiling amidst mountains and beautiful landscapes.  Enter Eamann, the privileged son of one of London's elite muslim politicians, who upon meeting Isma goes in search of Aneeka.  The plot thickens and unfolds in utterly intriguing and unexpected ways... I could never have predicted the ending of "Home Fire", and the story unravels best without prior knowledge of which myth is retold. Skillfully written, Shamsie creates a believable tale that causes readers to acknowledge and question our own culpability when the lives of those we love most are in danger.

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