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Kamila Shamsie’s HOME FIRE Wins the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction

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Deepali Agarwal

Staff Writer

Deepali Agarwal has a Master’s in literary linguistics, which means that every person she’s ever known has, at some point, asked her to ‘edit a thing’ for them-- ‘just see if it reads okay?’ She doesn’t mind, because she believes that the world can be fixed one oxford comma at a time. Deepali lives in Delhi, the capital of India, where cows are sacred, but authors and poets exist and write brilliant things. She works as an editor with OUP India’s School ELT division, where she moves apostrophes, looks up pictures of cats, and talks about children’s books for eight hours. The rest of her day is spent reading, thinking about Parks and Recreation, and wondering if there exist jobs for English majors that pay more than peanuts. Twitter: @DeepaliAgarwal_

The 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction, previously known as the Orange prize and the Bailey’s prize, has been bagged by British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie for her novel Home Fire, a contemporary retelling of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, AntigoneThe £30,000 prize has previously been won by authors like Naomi Alderman and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

home fire by kamila shamsie | Kamila Shamsie's HOME FIRE Wins the 2018 Women's Prize for FictionHome Fire is Shamsie’s seventh novel, and follows the lives of orphans Isma and her twin siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz after Parvaiz joins the media arm of the Islamic State. It deals with love and conflict in times of global despair, and is evocatively written, providing an excellent complement to Mohsin Hamid’s 2017 novel about immigration and radicalism, Exit West.

Sarah Sands, the journalist who chaired the panel for the prize, says “In the end we chose the book which we felt spoke for our times. Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties, love and politics. And it sustains mastery of its themes and its form. It is a remarkable book which we passionately recommend.”

The shortlist for the prize included five other novels by women authors:
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife
by Meena Kandasamy

Home Fire was also on the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize. You can read an excerpt for the book here. The Kindle book is currently prices at only $4.16 on Amazon US.