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Home Fire (2017)

by Kamila Shamsie

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1,724809,905 (4.08)256
"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?"--… (more)
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English (75)  Dutch (2)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Once I had worked out where I was and who was speaking, I found Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie to be a gripping tale and flew through it. It’s a very British book, due, in part, to a pervasively underlying sense of class polemic. I liked the way the author structured the story through the different perspectives of each of the main characters but she had a most annoying habit of trying to create suspense by referring to things the reader was yet to find out about. This meant I became disorientated several times and had to re-read to find out who was talking about what.
There are moments when Shamsie soars, for example,

…grief was bad-tempered, grief was kind; grief saw nothing but itself, grief saw every speck of pain in the world; grief spread its wings like an eagle, grief huddled small like a porcupine; grief needed company, grief craved solitude, grief wanted to remember, wanted to forget, grief raged, grief whimpered; grief made time compress and contract; grief tasted like hunger, felt like numbness, sounded like silence; grief tased like bile, felt like blades, sounded like all the noise of the world. Grief was a shapeshifter and invisible too; grief could be captured as a reflection in a twin’s eye. Grief heard its death sentence the morning you both woke up and one was singing and the other caught the song.

The Antigone theme was not laboured and lent the book a depth that it really didn’t need.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
Magically brutal finishing stretch. The final two pages are heartbreaking. So good. ( )
  MichaelH85 | Feb 12, 2024 |
At first I was a bit underwhelmed with this book; I found it to be a bit slow and simple, especially because of the way the chapters were set up (each character had their own part) but as I progressed, I was blown away. The pacing of the last third of the book was really extraordinary and I thought that the use of the articles, closed captions, and various displays of social media was a perfect way to modernize the classic Antigone. ( )
  cbwalsh | Sep 13, 2023 |
Home Fire is a modernised retelling of the myth of Antigone, her brother Polynices and her lover Haemon.

Isma and her twin siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz have grown up in the absence of their father and mother. Isma has left Aneeka in London to go study in the USA, and Parvaiz has also left her to fight for ISIS. Isma meets the feckless Eamonn, the son of a Muslim politician who is now Home Secretary. Eamonn ignores her flirting but starts a relationship with the beautiful Aneeka on his return to London. Meanwhile rumours abound that Parvaiz is coming home, but can he do so safely given the implacable opposition of the Home Secretary to jihadis?

Shamsie has done a very good job of adapting this classic myth. She manages to convey the overwrought emotion of a Greek tragedy without making either the story or the characters ring false. In doing so she gets beyond the headline cliches of evil jihadists to expose the humanity beneath these radicalised young people. ( )
  gjky | Apr 9, 2023 |
When I think about this book as a reworking of Antigone I’m more impressed then when I just consider it on its own merits. It’s a perfect example of an author coming up with a premise that sounds really good, but then failing to deliver on the promise of it. The author did a nice job of bringing the story of Antigone to the present day, but honestly, I was bored until the last quarter of the book and felt the book was emotionally vacant until literally the very last page. Of the eight Man Booker longlisted books I’ve finished, it was my least favorite to read.

The book is subdivided by chapters with each character getting a couple of chapters. It's about a family, where the older sister raised her orphaned twin siblings in Britain. The male twin becomes radicalized, and his sister attempts to secure his ability to return to Britain through a relationship with the son of a British minister. It's a very readable book, so I was surprised how little interest I had in these characters. The ending of the story is definitely the highlight, but sadly, by the time I got there, it wasn't enough to make up for the first three quarters. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The ones we love .... are enemies of the state.

- Sophocles, Antigone ( translated by Seamus Heaney)
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For Gillian Slovo
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Isma was going to miss her flight.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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?"--

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