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The British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie was awarded with UK’s prestigious literature award. She won the accolade of the Women’s Prize for fiction for her seventh novel, Home Fire.
‘Home Fire’ is based on an Ancient Greek Play in which a girl named Antigone is forbidden to bury Polynices, her brother, after he was declared a traitor. Shamsie’s seventh novel, Home Fire is set in the modern times that recounts the story of a family devastated by ISIS.
The story comprises of three siblings; Aneeka – the lead character, her twin sisters, Isma and Parvaiz, their younger brother – who fled to join ISIS’s media wing. Aneeka falls in love with the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, who she hopes to use in order to find her missing brother.
The chair of Judges announced ‘Home Fire’, the winner of the contest and handed Kamila Shamsie, prize money of £30,000. The jury acclaimed the novel “the story of our times.”
A jury member, Sarah Sands, who is an editor of BBC’s Radio 4’s Today Programme praised how efficiently Kamila Shamsie has dealt with the present crisis of religious extremism and the sufferings of the families in her book.
One of the emergent crises of the UK is the increasing inclination of Muslim Youth towards religious extremist organizations. It is a crisis that promotes irrevocable damage. Kamila Shamsie has casted its impact on not only the victim but has alos put forth the ordeal the families have to go through in the process.
Sarah Sands, talking to the The Guardian, said, “The panel chose the book which we felt spoke for our times … Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties, love and politics. And it sustains mastery of its themes and its form. It is a remarkable book which we passionately recommend.”
Sands, said, “It was a hard-argued choice, but it was unanimous. It was extremely difficult, because of the richness and variety of the shortlisted books – imagine how you compare the experience of race in America versus courtesans and mermaids. But when we set out to decide what felt like the story of our times, [Home Fire] was the right choice.”
“Shamsie is funny and exact about the Muslim experience, what it means to be challenged on your identity, what it means choosing between the public and private … Her nuance, her sympathies, really make you challenge your own lazy thinking on all this.”
“The different characters were all so well-realised that you have sympathy for all of them – even the brother, which was the extraordinary thing. There’s no question what he did was wrong, but you feel sympathy, that it was a terrible misjudgment, that there’s no going back.
Read more: Book Review: Honor by Elif Shafak
“To humanise a political story in that way really does show what literature can do – it can tackle a hard subject that otherwise would never have had that sense of layered sympathy and understanding. It really advanced our understanding of the whole issue of identity.”
Her novel Home Fire was long-listed for the 2017 Man Bookers Prize and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.
Shamsie, 44, was born in Karachi and is now living in London, UK. She is an acclaimed writer, who has, several times, raised her about gender inequality in the world of authors and dedicated a year to publishing only female writers to redress the inequality.
“It is very readable, it’s extremely well written, it’s well plotted, it’s something that could easily be a brilliant television series or film. It’s not that you’re thinking, ‘This is a novel about politics, I need to plough through’,” she said. “It doesn’t feel as if she is straining to recreate Antigone – you could read it without thinking about Sophocles at all. In a way, that just gives it a resonance.”