cover image Home Fire

Home Fire

Kamila Shamsie. Riverhead, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1768-3

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.)