Review by: MUHAMMAD ADNAN WARIS
Air university, Islamabad.
Novel home fire is written by Kamila Shamsie who is an award-winning British-Pakistani novelist. Her novel won the women’s prize for fiction 2018. The publisher of this is Riverhead books. The narrative techniques used in this novel are the shift of time, Dialogue, and Point of view. The writer has not used similes or hyperboles but has included a flashback from the past that how the father of Isma’s was killed by US army. The Genre of this novel belongs to Romance novels, political fiction, and domestic fiction.
This novel has a story about Isma and her twin siblings (Aneeka and Parvaiz). They belong to the Pasha Family of Pakistani origin who have been settled in Britain for years. Their father Adil Pasha went for jihad in Afghanistan and was arrested by US army. He was kept in jail In Bagram Airfield. Then he was being moved to Guantanamo Mobey jail where he was killed. Isma and her family went to the British home secretary Karamat lone to inquire about the extrajudicial killing of their father but Karamat Lone rejected their request and said that their father was a terrorist and he would not help them. Karamat Lone is Home Secretary British-Pakistani who married to an Irish woman and stays away from the Pakistani community in UK. Actually, he is the villain of this novel. After that Isma’s mother also died. So, a huge responsibility was on Isma to take care of her younger siblings. She started working in the laundry and also continued her education. She completed her Bachelors in sociology when her siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz reached to their adulthood. Isma went to America to pursue her dream of getting higher studies from America. At the starting of the novel, it was written that Isma was going to miss her flight from London to Boston where she was thoroughly checked by Heathrow airport security officials and many awkward questions were asked from her like.
Do you consider yourself British? What are your thoughts on Shias, Homosexuals, the queen democracy, the Great Britain Bake-off, the invasion of Iraq, Israel, suicide bombers, etc? Her laptop especially her browsing history was checked. That shows the Islamophobia in the west and the special treatment of security officials with the Muslims. Then she left London for America. She was living in Amherst, Massachusetts at the residence of her mentor Dr. Hira shah. She worked in a nearby café, where she met 24 years old Eamonn Lone son of British Home Secretary Karamat Lone. He was half-Irish and half Pakistani. They both talked to each other at the café and had very good relations. One day Eamonn comes to know that Isma dislikes his father; Eamonn became upset and went away.
Then Dr. Hira shah advised her not to break relations with him for this reason. After a long time, they both met each other again and had a good relationship. Parvaiz was working in a grocery store and pursuing his dream of sound engineering living apart from her sister Aneeka. Parvaiz became friend of an Arab Jihadi Farooq who was member of ISIS, whose father was in the war of Bosnia along with Parvaiz’s father. He encouraged him to learn what happened to his father in Bagram Airfield. He was also a critic of British policies which affected Parvaiz’s family too much. He persuaded Parvaiz that the ISIS Caliphate to get rid of cruelties done by western powers. He showed his photos to Parvaiz and told about his time in Syria. Farooq assured Parvaiz that he would introduce him to the people in Syria that fought along with his father and he also guaranteed that he would be allowed to leave anytime he wishes. Parvaiz started to make arrangements to visit his family in Pakistan but skips his flight in Istanbul and leaves for Syria to join ISIS.
Farooq went to the battlefront leaving behind Parvaiz in Recca without helping him to meet his father’s friend. Parvaiz decided to go to the British consulate to save himself but killed in a drive-by shooting as he reached the building. The breaking news spread throughout Istanbul that a British-born jihadi was killed in Syria. United Kingdom Government didn’t allow Parvaiz’s family to bring back his dead body. These orders were issued by the Karamat Lone. Isma explained this matter to Eamonn Lone. Eamonn was in a dilemma whether to support his father or Isma. Aneeka was outraged and went to Pakistan because Parvaiz’s dead body was sent to Pakistan. Aneeka insisted that his dead body should be bought back to UK for a burial ceremony. Karamat Lone received many threats; he and his family were sent to the safe room. Eamonn despite of danger flew to Pakistan in order to help Aneeka who was present in Karachi with her brother’s dead body. Eamonn arrived at Karachi park in search of Aneeka, suddenly two men strapped Eamonn into the belt of explosives. The crowd gathered there run-away Eamonn struggled in vain to free himself from explosives. Aneeka ran towards him. They both embraced each other for few moments and both of them died in the blast.
The writer has used very good language and was easy to understand. The words used by the writer were catchy and grabbed the reader’s attention. The plot of the novel surrounds Isma and her siblings and the difficulties their families faced. The ending would have been better if the positive conclusion should be added. The negative character “Karamat Lone” did not receive any punishment for his misdeeds. This novel is full of despair without having any message of hope. In this novel, Islamophobia in the west was shown and how it is difficult for Muslims to live there.