Acclaimed by judges as “the story of our times,” British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie’s 2017 novel Home Fire has won the coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction, which includes a £30,000 cash award.
The author’s seventh novel reworks Sophocles’ ancient Greek tragedy Antigone into the tale of a British-Muslim family’s ties to the Islamic State militant group. In it, the twin sister of a man who has joined I.S. hopes to use her link to the son of Britain’s home secretary to save her brother.
The five-judge panel comprising British journalist and author Sarah Sands, journalist Anita Anand, comedian Katy Brand, actor Imogen Stubbs and Women’s Equality political party co-founder Catherine Mayer chose Home Fire from a shortlist that included Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Jesse Greengrass’s Sight, Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, and Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You: Or, a Portrait of the Writer as Young Wife.
Announcing the winner, judge Sands said Home Fire won because it “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.”
Home Fire was also longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Shamsie has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize twice before for Broken Verses; Burnt Shadows and A God in Every Stone.