Thursday, January 18, 2018

Readings: Home Fire

Home Fire is the re-imagining of a classic Greek tragedy, one that I won't name in case it gives away a plot point. Since I hadn't read it anyway (have never read any, I think?) it didn't make a whit of difference; although the final scene may have been more impressive because of my ignorance.

The story is told from five viewpoints, all of which belong to characters who are Brits of Pakistani extraction. The novel is a fascinating portrait of this reality, especially so because being Pakistani is never the crux of the issue for any character. However, it is supremely important owing to the politics of the day. How can it not be, with the wave of radicalization that that nation faces as a serious threat? 

Ms. Shamsie is a gifted writer indeed because she has the power of restraint. While the plot hums along nicely, seemingly by itself, she presents us clips and glimpses of how all five characters intersect at the edge of the same question: what would we do for those we love, even if that act destroys others we love? 

And thus all five hurtle along to the devastating end. The imagery in this last sequence of the story is haunting, and well-handled where it could have verged into melodrama. Finally one is left to mourn for the last character standing, as it were, and the emotional imprint packs quite a wallop.

A very welcome addition to my growing discovery of new authors, is K. Shamsie. And it's given me more impetus to rampage through the HOT OFF THE PRESS section in the library. 

Random note: I watch the PBS show Home Fires (marvelous) but for some reason always call it Home Fries. And thus this worthy novel, unfortunately, will always be Home Frie in my head. Sigh.

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