“Everything else you can live around, but not death. Death you have to live through.”
I was eagerly following the Womens Prize ceremony last week. I’d only read one of the shortlisted books (The Idiot), which I really enjoyed, and so I was keen to find out who would win. When the winner was announced, and I heard the amazing feedback, I knew that I had to read it straight away.
I picked up Home Fire on Friday evening and, after a day out on Saturday, finished it on Sunday. I couldn’t put it down.
The reviews on the book cover include words such as “brave”, “fearless” and “troubling”. I imagined that it would be heart wrenching, and it was.
It can be easy when you come from privilege to be a bit blinded to racism and prejudice in your country; it is easy to follow the narrative you are presented with, and not see past that to the human story beyond. This incredibly written story follows a family torn apart by the shadow of terrorism and an unsympathetic government. The Home Secretary, trying desperately to ensure that his Muslim upbringing doesn’t affect his chances of becoming Prime Minister, takes a tough stance against those he views as enemies of Britain. But what if those enemies were victims themselves?
Shamsie shines the spotlight on the human cost of a war which takes place in the hearts of the characters as well as in a foreign country. The waste of young lives is brutally thrust into your consciousness as you read. You are left thinking that there must, there has to be, another way.
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