29 August 2018

Book of the month: 'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie

Book of the month: 'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

Let's kick start this with some real talk: this is officially the best book I've read so far in 2018. It's clear to see why it won the Women's Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel award. I now definitely need to go and read all of Kamila Shamsie's previous works before eagerly anticipating when she'll release her next book.

Home Fire is a modern retelling of Sophocles' 'Antigone' in the format of a novel. It focuses on a Muslim family living in London, and the struggles of modern life as a Muslim and the prejudices faced. The book opens with Isma, the older sister of the family, being interrogated by border control staff in the US. She's travelling from London to America, and is unnecessarily detained and questioned. Instantly, you're angry with the sheer injustice of the situation. You're angry that in our world this happens regularly. 

As a white reader coming to the novel, I was instantly more aware of my white privilege than I probably ever have been before. If I get nervous before heading to an airport, it's not because I might not get let into a country, but more because I might get stuck in traffic and miss my flight. I'm not terrified that I'm going to be detained due to my race, and that I'm going to be in a situation that's absolutely out of my control through no fault of my own. Islamophobia is rife in the Western world, but we only get the extreme glimpses of this in the media, and I've never read or heard before the ins and outs of smaller, individual instances that happen day to day. 

As the novel progresses, we see what it's like both for Isma living as a student in the US, and her family back home in London. Her younger twin brother and sister, Parvaiz and Aneeka are trying their best to shrug off the weight of their father's past. He was a jihadi, who died on his way to Guantanamo. Parvaiz has always been determined not to have anything to do with his father's past. That is, until he's approached one day by men who knew his father, and offer an insight into his family history that he craved.  Aneeka's determined to do anything she can to protect her brother, even if it means getting wrapped up in a world she's always sworn to avoid ...

I honestly think this is SUCH an important book, that we all need to read. Any book that I've read before with a Muslim character in hasn't focused on the different approaches people have to their religion. I think it's crucial that all of the characters were so different, especially Isma and Aneeka. This book humanised a minority group in a way that the media's never attempted to do, instead choosing to vilify. I learnt masses about Islam and what identifying as a Muslim means, and it's something that I needed to know more about.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Follow me on Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Facebook

1 comment:

  1. Oooh I'm definitely going to add this to my TBR, looks awesome! I love that fiction has started to diversify, it's so important that we hear these kinds of stories.

    Megan // https://pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com/


I read each and every one of your comments, and really appreciate the time you've taken to add them! If you want or need a more immediate response then contact me through my twitter @stephhartley4. Thank you!