Review of Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I first heard about this book because my friends, in a different AP Literature class than me, all read this and said good things. It piqued my interest, so I read this on my own for fun and I liked it a lot! Because I didn’t formally discuss it in class with analysis or anything, I do feel like some of the prose, some of its imagery and symbolism, went over my head… but yet I have to say I LOVED the themes and characters Homefire explored. It rly made me reconsider:

  • The concept of justice, how we always view it in a Western context
  • The quote: “‘She’s going to look for justice in Pakistan?’ That final word spoken with all the disgust of a child of migrants who understands how much his parents gave up — family, context, language, familiarity — because the nation to which they first belonged had proven itself inadequate to the task of allowing them to live with dignity.” It is so incredibly relevant to aspects of the immigrant diaspora today… although there’s a stark difference between fleeing out of discontent versus out of “economic opportunities” in the West versus being forced to flee as refugees. Kind of interesting
  • It was fascinating to read about the conflicts between Muslims in the West versus Eastern beliefs versus different methods of coping with being alienated (Karamat’s ideal of assimilation in contrast to standing out proudly).
  • I think it is obvious that the reader is more sympathetic to Parvaiz, Aneeka, and Eammon’s situations, but at the end of it, Karamat serves as an excellent and fascinating foil — his preaching about assimilation — the Westernized perspective of so many cultures where shedding your “old skin” can benefit you — is important to consider in contrast to everything
  • Homefire discusses that ever present Western vs Eastern divide… it’s crazy how it’s Twitter that has been opening my eyes a lot to how insanely prevalent (and evil) western imperialism is, because I sure would never have learned about it from history textbooks!

Also, while I haven’t yet read Antigone, I’ve read the Wikipedia summary and it’s pretty obvious who’s who in this “retelling” — Karamat as Creon, Aneeka as Antigone, etc etc — but I really liked this reimagining in relation to Islam and age of ISIS. I wish I had the chance to go over it in class for a way more fleshed out exploration but I think having to think for myself about themes and analysis was a pretty cool experience too ??

UPDATE: my friend who is actually Muslim read this and… disliked it. We figure that Western reviewers (including the AP Lit teacher who is an old cis white man) all love it, but everyone else? Not so much.


One response to “Review of Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie”

  1. This is great! I’m putting the book on my list! Thanks for the review.

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