Sully Iqbal

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Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie

Life truly does imitate Art…

The world that Shamsie builds is so similar to our own it’s almost as if she travelled to the future to grab news headlines to base this book off.

Admittedly I usually don’t read novels that aren’t seen as ‘literary fiction’ books that don’t really have a specific genre. However this romantic drama was able to grip me in a way that greatly surprised me.

Without spoiling too much of the plot, it feels as if the novel lifted elements from the Shamima Begum case and from the appointment of Sajid Javed (boo) as Home Secretary. That is until you find out the book was published before either fo these situations! As I said, life truly imitates art.

The acts of the novel are clearly defined and broken up by the narrative shifting between characters. This might be seen as a 'simple’ technique to move the story along, but it is used so effectively in Home Fire that one is more than happy to let that go.


Personally I felt the first ‘act’ was a bit slow and plodding. However it is necessary to set up the more interesting and faster paced remaining acts. Furthermore the pacing of the acts do reflect the state of mind of the specific character it is following, and well as the characters become more frantic, so does the pace.

Home Fire is a brilliant portrayal of the trials and tribulations of Muslims, in particular South Asian Muslims, in an increasingly polarised British Society. Different nuisances of the community are addressed, whether it be the life of an academically gifted Muslim girl brought up in a less well off area or be it an extremely liberal Muslim boy bought up in affluence with his heritage shunned by his father.

This novel is essentially a platform for displaying the different facets of the British Muslim community, whilst using the backdrop of the ‘War on Terror’ to create palpable tension and fear amongst the characters and the readers.