Wednesday 27 February 2019

Mini-Review! - Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

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Home Fire title image

Home Fire book cover
Title: Home Fire

Author: Kamila Shamsie

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Retellings

The Verdict:

This book is bold, brave, and breath-taking.

Based on the Greek tragedy Antigone (but don’t panic, you really don’t have to be familiar with Antigone to enjoy this,) Home Fire is #OwnVoices for British Pakistani Muslims.

...It’s also about extremism and joining IS.

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Isma and Aneeka’s brother, Parvaiz, has made a big f**king mistake.

...And now he’s been stripped of his British citizenship and is stranded in Syria.

Torn between love for their brother, and loyalty to their country, the two sisters must make decisions over just how far they’re willing to go when they’re being pulled equally in two separate directions.

And their family’s misfortune is about to pull in the son of the British Home Secretary...

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Told you it was brave.

This book meanders through moral minefields and says: guess what? There is no goddamn definitive answer!

...And I love that.

A book that is prepared to see things from multiple perspectives, to examine root causes, and to say, honestly, that nobody is right, and nobody is wrong (while still managing to condemn any and all violence.) ...Wow.

Shamsie trips through the grey areas with an enviable lyrical skill, and deep, damaged, complex, flawed, relatable, characters. (Yes, I’m totally gushing.)

At it’s heart, though, this book is about family, and love.

And it weaves this in with issues of citizenship, racism, and identity – including what it is to be British, Asian, and Muslim.

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So it’s never going to be a book that pleases everyone – it is challenging in so, so, many ways that you’ll find yourself challenging your own ideals and preconceptions.

There are elements which many Muslims may find offensive, especially a scene in which Aneeka is, in a sexual way, naked except for her hijab.

I’m always honest here on Dora Reads – so, as a non-Muslim, and for whatever it’s worth, I actually found it quite shocking.

I also think it’s entirely within Kamila Shamsie’s rights to write whatever she wants; I figured you’d want to be warned in advance, though.

While the hijab-featuring sex-scene is really not something that’s for me to comment on the rights and wrongs of, it thoroughly smashes through any last preconceptions you may have that Muslims all think certain things, or act in certain ways.

Shamsie’s British-Pakistanis are, quite rightly, individuals. They have their own views, their own reactions, their own lives.

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And even Parvaiz is given his own point of view (POV) section – because this book wasn’t throwing down enough matches to begin with, clearly!

(You know I love it! 😎)

Speaking of POVs, we are given five separate POVs, split into sections.

I personally found them to be knitted together beautifully, though I was reluctant to leave certain POVs behind (but isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?)

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If you’re ready for a beautifully-written, fast-paced challenge, then what are you waiting for?

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#OwnVoices Reviews:

If you have an #OwnVoices review of Home Fire you'd like me to link to, let me know!

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Content Warnings:

As you can imagine, there’s some heavy sh** going on here – be careful my nerdlets:

- terrorism, extremism, and IS

- war

- executions

- suicide bombs

- torture (including discussions of Guantanamo Bay)

- Islamophobia (including assault)

- racism

- citizenship issues

- prejudice against individuals due to actions of their family members

- bereavement and grief

Do you think fiction should tackle such controversial topics?
Do you think that you'd be brave enough to write a book like this?
Talk to me! 😉💬

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Last updated: 26th May 2019


  1. Wow this book seems amazing! I am actually learning about Antigone now in one of my courses. I love Greek mythology and this seems like a powerful spin on it.

    1. If you've been studying Antigone then I'd totally recommend it! It's an amazing book! :)


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