We know from the beginning of “Home Fire” that 19-year-old Aneeka’s beloved twin brother Parvaiz has left London to join the media arm of Daesh. Devastated, she directs her anger toward their older sister Isma for reporting his location to the police.
Living in Wembley, home to one of London’s largest Muslim communities, Isma has stood in as a parent to the twins since her mother’s death. Their father, a jihadist who died en route to Guantanamo after being tortured in Afghanistan’s notorious Bagram prison, is the link that draws Daesh recruiters to Parvaiz.
Hinging on the pressures of being a Muslim in London, Kamila Shamsie’s seventh novel navigates the competing demands of community, family and faith in a twist on the tale of “Antigone,” Sophocles’ classic tragedy about a teenage girl who defies her uncle the king to give her traitor brother a respectable burial.
Aneeka is determined to help Parvaiz find a way back and strikes up a relationship with Eamonn, son of British-Asian Home Secretary Karamat Lone, a controversial figure in the UK’s Muslim community.
Poised between the drama of its roots in Greek tragedy and moral dilemmas anchored in the modern day, “Home Fire” raises uncomfortable questions played out by the headstrong Aneeka as she spins a web to secure her brother’s freedom.