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Home Fire: A Novel - Kamila Shamsie

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 disastrous effects on a family.


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 undermined their every move and influenced their beliefs.


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 the local 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, 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*)