Home fire A novel

Kamila Shamsie, 1973-

Book - 2017

"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 siste...rs' 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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Romance fiction
Domestic fiction
Political fiction
New York : Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 2017.
Main Author
Kamila Shamsie, 1973- (author)
Physical Description
276 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, by Celeste Ng. (Penguin Press, $27.) The magic of Ng's second novel, which opens with arson and centers on an interracial adoption, lies in its power to implicate every character - and likely many readers - in the innocent delusion that "no one sees race here." DEFIANCE: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Anne Barnard, by Stephen Taylor. (Norton, $28.95.) Over the course of Taylor's biography, a picture emerges of Lady Anne Barnard as a cleareyed yet self-doubting woman determined to live life on her own terms even as she worried about her right to set those terms. AT THE STRANGERS' GATE: Arrivals in New York, by Adam Gopnik. (Knopf, $26.95.) In his new memoir, Gopnik recalls the decade after he and his soon-to-be wife moved from Montreal to New York, in 1980. Always the elegant stylist, he effortlessly weaves in the city's cultural history, tracing his path from graduate student in art history to staff writer for The New Yorker. HOME FIRE, by Kamila Shamsie. (Riverhead, $26.) In a challenging and engrossing novel full of tiny but resonant details, two families find their fates entwined when a young man travels to Syria to join ISIS, following in the steps of the jihadist father he never really knew. BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD, by Attica Locke. (Mulholland/ Little, Brown, $26.) This murder mystery follows Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, as he tries to solve a dual killing in a small town full of zany characters, buried feelings and betrayals that go back generations. THE STONE SKY: The Broken Earth: Book Three, by N. K. Jemisin. (Orbit, paper, $16.99.) Jemisin, who writes the Book Review's Otherworldly column about science fiction and fantasy, won a Hugo Award for each of the first two novels in her Broken Earth trilogy. In the extraordinary conclusion, a mother and daughter do geologic battle for the fate of the earth. AUTUMN, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Translated by Ingvild Burkey. (Penguin Press, $27.) In this collection of finely honed miniature essays, the first of a planned quartet based on the seasons, the Norwegian author of the multi-volume novel "My Struggle" describes the world for his unborn child. AFTERGLOW (A Dog Memoir), by Eileen Myles. (Grove, $24.) Myles, the poet and autobiographical novelist, turns her attention to the role her dog Rosie played in her life and art. ONE NATION AFTER TRUMP: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported, by E. J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann. (St. Martin's, $25.99.) Seasoned Washington observers examine how Donald Trump's rise reflects long-term Republican trends. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Gut-wrenching and undeniably relevant to today's world, Shamsie's (A God in Every Stone, 2014) newest literary accomplishment focuses on members of two British families of Pakistani heritage and their life-changing decisions and entanglements. Isma Pasha had essentially raised her orphaned younger siblings, twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, although their closeness ended after Parvaiz left for Syria to follow in his absentee father's footsteps as a jihadi. With the beautiful, enigmatic Aneeka in college in London, Isma enrolls in a long-awaited doctoral program in Massachusetts, where she befriends Eamonn, son of rising MP Karamat Lone, a man who built his political career partly on renouncing the Muslim faith of his birth. When Eamonn returns to London, he's swept into a secret love affair whose repercussions have a profound impact on both families. In this multiple-perspective novel, Shamsie peers deeply into her characters' innermost selves, delineating the complicated emotions, idealistic principles, and vulnerabilities that drive them. Scenes showing Parvaiz's mindset as he is indoctrinated into ISIS are daring and incredibly disturbing. In accessible, unwavering prose and without any heavy-handedness, Shamsie addresses an impressive mix of contemporary issues, from Muslim profiling to cultural assimilation and identity to the nuances of international relations. This shattering work leaves a lasting emotional impression.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Shamsie's memorable novel features timely themes in this epic tale of two Muslim families whose lives are entangled by politics and conflict. As the novel opens, 28-year-old Isma is on her way to the U.S. for a Ph.D. in sociology. She's left behind her siblings, 19-year-old twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, in London. One of the first connections Isma makes in Amherst is an old friend of the family-24-year-old Eamonn, whose father was just elected home secretary of London. Though Isma is immediately smitten, Eamonn only has eyes for Isma's beautiful sister, Aneeka, whom he vows to meet after seeing a photo of the girl at Isma's apartment. When back in London, he tracks Aneeka down and the two fall into a secretive affair, hiding the truth of their relationship from her family. But what Eamonn doesn't realize is that Aneeka has a reason for being with him besides true affection-she wants his help in getting his father to allow safe passage and immunity for Parvaiz, who joined the media arm of a jihadist group in Syria. The novel is separated into five parts, and each reveals a portion of the story from a different character's perspective. The highlights are the sections devoted to Parvaiz's recruitment and personal transformation-they're both salient and heartbreaking, culminating in a shocking ending. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

This latest from London-based Shamsie (God in Every Stone) depicts the lives of three Pakistani siblings from Great Britain, responsible older sister Isma and her younger siblings, brother-and-sister twins Parvaiz and Aneeka. After their mother's death, Isma spent seven years helping raise the younger children and now resides in the United States, where she is pursuing her PhD. At 19, the twins are on their own paths. Parvaiz, who harbors the secret of having a jihadist father, is befriended by the son of a man who was acquainted with him and in an effort to learn more about the father he never knew soon finds himself following in his father's footsteps. When Aneeka tries to help him, concerned for his safety, a twist of fate entangles her with Eamonn, a man to whom her sister is attracted. Verdict Written with great fluidity, Shamsie's work imaginatively addresses the issues of identity, culture, politics, religion, and nationalism in an absorbing story. Definite fodder for book groups, this well-crafted relational novel is at times hauntingly disturbing and will easily generate much discussion.-Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A modern-day Antigone set against political tensions in London, Shamsie's latest is a haunting and arrestingly current portrait of two families forever caught in the insurmountable gap between love and country, loyalty and desire.Long the caretaker of her younger twin siblings, Isma Pashafree at lastaccepts an invitation from her mentor to trade London for Amherst to finally earn her long-deferred sociology Ph.D. But even in America, she cannot forget her siblings: Aneeka, feisty and beautiful in London; and Parvaiz, who has disappeared into Syria, following in the footsteps of the jihadi father he never knew. Britain, however, is not as far away as it seems, and it is in a Massachusetts cafe that Ismaserious, studioussees a face as familiar as it is unlikely: Eamonn Lone, whose politico father has made his career winning white votes by denouncing the "backwardness" of British Muslims. This is where it might become a campus novel, a complicated but gentle love story between two expats with warring families abroad. But it doesn't. For one thing, it's not Isma Eamonn loves; it's Aneeka, whom he meets back in London while running an errand on Isma's behalf. Within hours, the two begin a secretive romance, but it is Aneeka's brother, Parvaiz, trapped now at a jihadi camp in Raqqa and desperate to come home, who occupies her thoughts. With all the stakes of the original, two-time Orange Prize nominee Shamsie (A God in Every Stone, 2014, etc.) has written an explosive novel with big questions about the nature of justice, defiance, and love. Though its characters are trembling with humanity writ largeall of them are tragic figuresthey don't quite come alive, remaining Grecian archetypes, dramatic embodiments of powerful ideas. As a result, despite its obvious power, the book remains emotionally disconnected, unsettlingmoving, evenbut poetically removed, as though a dance behind glass. A powerful novel and a timely one. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

1 Isma was going to miss her flight. The ticket wouldn't be refunded because the airline took no responsibility for passengers who arrived at the airport three hours ahead of the departure time and were escorted to an interrogation room. She had expected the interrogation, but not the hours of waiting that would precede it, nor that it would feel so humiliating to have the contents of her suitcase inspected. She'd made sure not to pack anything that would invite comment or questions--no Quran, no family pictures, no books on her area of academic interest--but, even so, the officer took hold of every item of Isma's clothing and ran it between her thumb and fingers, not so much searching for hidden pockets as judging the quality of the material. Finally she reached for the designer-label down jacket Isma had folded over a chair back when she entered, and held it up, one hand pinching each shoulder. "This isn't yours," she said, and Isma was sure she didn't mean because it's at least a size too large but rather it's too nice for someone like you . "I used to work at a dry-cleaning shop. The woman who brought this in said she didn't want it when we couldn't get rid of the stain." She pointed to the grease mark on the pocket. "Does the manager know you took it?" "I was the manager." "You were the manager of a dry-cleaning shop and now you're on your way to a PhD program in sociology?" "Yes." "And how did that happen?" "My siblings and I were orphaned just after I finished uni. They were twelve years old--twins. I took the first job I could find. Now they've grown up; I can go back to my life." "You're going back to your life . . . in Amherst, Massachusetts." "I meant the academic life. My former tutor from LSE teaches in Amherst now, at the university there. Her name is Hira Shah. You can call her. I'll be staying with her when I arrive, until I find a place of my own." "In Amherst." "No. I don't know. Sorry, do you mean her place or the place of my own? She lives in Northampton--that's close to Amherst. I'll look all around the area for whatever suits me best. So it might be Amherst, but it might not. There are some real estate listings on my phone. Which you have." She stopped herself. The official was doing that thing that she'd encountered before in security personnel--staying quiet when you answered their question in a straightforward manner, which made you think you had to say more. And the more you said, the more guilty you sounded. The woman dropped the jacket into the jumble of clothes and shoes and told Isma to wait. That had been a while ago. The plane would be boarding now. Isma looked over at the suitcase. She'd repacked when the woman left the room and spent the time since worrying if doing that without permission constituted an offense. Should she empty the clothes out into a haphazard pile, or would that make things even worse? She stood up, unzipped the suitcase, and flipped it open so its contents were visible. A man entered the office, carrying Isma's passport, laptop, and phone. She allowed herself to hope, but he sat down, gestured for her to do the same, and placed a voice recorder between them. "Do you consider yourself British?" the man said. "I am British." "But do you consider yourself British?" "I've lived here all my life." She meant there was no other country of which she could feel herself a part, but the words came out sounding evasive. The interrogation continued for nearly two hours. He wanted to know her thoughts on Shias, homosexuals, the Queen, democracy, The Great British Bake Off , the invasion of Iraq, Israel, suicide bombers, dating websites. After that early slip regarding her Britishness, she settled into the manner that she'd practiced with Aneeka playing the role of the interrogating officer, Isma responding to her sister as though she were a customer of dubious political opinions whose business Isma didn't want to lose by voicing strenuously opposing views, but to whom she didn't see the need to lie either. ("When people talk about the enmity between Shias and Sunni, it usually centers around some political imbalance of power, such as in Iraq or Syria--as a Brit, I don't distinguish between one Muslim and another." "Occupying other people's territory generally causes more problems than it solves"--this served for both Iraq and Israel. "Killing civilians is sinful--­that's equally true if the manner of killing is a suicide bombing or aerial bombardments or drone strikes.") There were long intervals of silence between each answer and the next question as the man clicked keys on her laptop, examining her browser history. He knew that she was interested in the marital status of an actor from a popular TV series; that wearing a hijab didn't stop her from buying expensive products to tame her frizzy hair; that she had searched for "how to make small talk with Americans." You know, you don't have to be so compliant about everything, Aneeka had said during the role-playing. Isma's sister, not quite nineteen, with her law student brain, who knew everything about her rights and nothing about the fragility of her place in the world. For instance, if they ask you about the Queen, just say, "As an Asian I have to admire her color palette."   It's important to show at least a tiny bit of contempt for the whole ­process. Instead, Isma had responded, I greatly admire Her Majesty's commitment to her role. But there had been comfort in hearing her sister's alternative answers in her head, her Ha! of triumph when the official asked a question that she'd anticipated and Isma had dismissed, such as the Great British Bake Off one. Well, if they didn't let her board this plane--or any one after this--she would go home to Aneeka, which is what half Isma's heart knew it should do in any case. How much of Aneeka's heart wanted that was a hard question to answer--she'd been so adamant that Isma not change her plans for America, and whether this was selflessness or a wish to be left alone was something even Aneeka herself didn't seem to know. A tiny flicker in Isma's brain signaled a thought about Parvaiz that was trying to surface, before it was submerged by the strength of her refusal ever to think about him again. Eventually, the door opened and the woman official walked in. Perhaps she would be the one to ask the family questions--the ones most difficult to answer, the most fraught when she'd prepared with her sister. "Sorry about that," the woman said, unconvincingly. "Just had to wait for America to wake up and confirm some details about your student visa. All checked out. Here." She handed a stiff rectangle of paper to Isma with an air of magnanimity. It was the boarding pass for the plane she'd already missed. Isma stood up, unsteady because of the pins and needles in her feet, which she'd been afraid to shake off in case she accidentally kicked the man across the desk from her. As she wheeled out her luggage she thanked the woman whose thumbprints were on her underwear, not allowing even a shade of sarcasm to enter her voice. *** The cold bit down on every exposed piece of skin before cutting through the layers of clothing. Isma opened her mouth and tilted her head back, breathing in the lip-numbing, teeth-aching air. Crusted snow lay all about, glinting in the lights of the terminal. Leaving her suitcase with Dr. Hira Shah, who had driven two hours across Massachusetts to meet her at Logan Airport, she walked over to a mound of snow at the edge of the parking lot, took off her gloves, and pressed her fingertips down on it. At first it resisted, but then it gave way, and her fingers burrowed into the softer layers beneath. She licked snow out of her palm, relieving the dryness of her mouth. The woman in customer services at Heathrow--a Muslim--had found her a place on the next flight out, without charge; she had spent the whole journey worrying about the interrogation awaiting her in Boston, certain they would detain her or put her on a plane back to London. But the immigration official had asked only where she was going to study, said something she didn't follow but tried to look interested in regarding the university basketball team, and waved her through. And then, as she walked out of the arrivals area, there was Dr. Shah, mentor and savior, unchanged since Isma's undergraduate days except for a few silver strands threaded through her cropped dark hair. Seeing her raise a hand in welcome, Isma understood how it might have felt, in another age, to step out on deck and see the upstretched arm of the Statue of Liberty and know you had made it, you were going to be all right. While there was still some feeling in her gloveless hands she typed a message into her phone: Arrived safely. Through security--no problems. Dr. Shah here. How things with you? Her sister wrote back: Fine, now I know they've let you through,  Really fine? Stop worrying about me. Go live your life--I really want you to. The parking lot with large, confident vehicles; the broad avenues beyond; the lights gleaming everywhere, their brightness multiplied by reflecting surfaces of glass and snow. Here, there was swagger and certainty and--on this New Year's Day of 2015--a promise of new beginnings. Excerpted from Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.