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Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

by Venky

The New York Times in showering encomiums on Kamila Shamsie’s “Home Fire” states, “Ingenious… Builds to one of the most memorable final scenes I’ve read in a novel this century.” A reading of this marvelous book reveals that it does much much more than just build up to a jaw dropping finale. Shades of Dickensian bleakness and swathes of Updike adorn the pages invoking an incredibly diverse range of emotions and raw passion. It has been quite some time since I have been accosted by a book so influential, so profound, possessing such breadth and sweep.

Isma is an aspiring British girl who sets out to the United States for pursuing PhD in Sociology. However she is subject to an extended interrogation bout at Heathrow which makes her miss her flight. A scrambled arrangement ensures that she gets on board the next flight to the US out of UK and makes it to her destination. A chance meeting in a cafe with Eammon Lone the son Karamat Lone, the Home Secretary in the British Parliament leads to the opening of some scars – involving her Jihadi father – that run deep. When Aneeka one of her twin siblings gets embroiled with Eammon and Parvez the other twin takes off to Iraq to aid and abet the ISIS in their devilish endeavours, all hell breaks loose.

Kamili Shamsie unravels each twist and turn in the plot with an ingenuity that is frightening, and with a simplicity that is unbelievably original. Originality in fact is the very essence of this book that has deservedly found a nomination in the long-list for the coveted Man Booker Prize. I am rooting for “Home Fire” to go the whole hog!


PS: The Booker Prize eluded “Home Fire” but this fact will not detract from the fact that the book is already a winner!

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