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Summary and book reviews of Daughters Of Smoke & Fire by Ava Homa

Daughters Of Smoke & Fire

A Novel

by Ava Homa

Daughters Of Smoke & Fire by Ava Homa X
Daughters Of Smoke & Fire by Ava Homa
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  • Published:
    May 2020, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Naomi Benaron
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About this Book

Book Summary

The unforgettable, haunting story of a young woman's perilous fight for freedom and justice for her brother, the first novel published in English by a female Kurdish writer.

Set in Iran, this extraordinary debut novel takes readers into the everyday lives of the Kurds. Leila dreams of making films to bring the suppressed stories of her people onto the global stage, but obstacles keep piling up. Leila's younger brother Chia, influenced by their father's past torture, imprisonment, and his deep-seated desire for justice, begins to engage with social and political affairs. But his activism grows increasingly risky and one day he disappears in Tehran. Seeking answers about her brother's whereabouts, Leila fears the worst and begins a campaign to save him. But when she publishes Chia's writings online, she finds herself in grave danger as well.

AVA HOMA
Daughters of Smoke and Fire, starting page 48

"How would it happen when you were in prison?" Chia pressed his luck.

"At midnight," he said, "they would call names. We were eighty inmates in one wing— sometimes more, sometimes less. Anyone whose name was called after the sun went down never came back."

I pricked up my ears from my invisible post. Baba's gaze remained on the flowers woven into the rug, his expression neutral, reminiscent. "We would listen for and count the gunshots right before sunrise, and with a fork, we'd engrave the date and the estimated number of people executed on the walls of our cells."

I steadied myself on the doorframe. My brother sat rigidly.

Baba continued stoically. "Every time that loudspeaker crackled, every time a guard turned it on and blew into it, every time someone whose name started with A was called ..." He stopped and glanced at Chia, through Chia, as if Chia weren't there. "The ones who were called had only a moment to give their...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Through her characters, Homa gives voice to the struggles of a people who have been without a state since their territory was divided in the 17th century. This work is urgent and necessary. It is a story of resistance, but beyond that, it's the story of the power of the creative spirit to rise above oppression and endure. It's a story of the power of love and hope...continued

Full Review Members Only (693 words).

(Reviewed by Naomi Benaron).

Media Reviews

Seattle Post Intelligencer
While this book about a Kurdish family in Iran, the story could be about any minority living under the rule of an oppressive majority demanding their assimilation. Homa has created a story that's both personal and universal in its scope. Daughters of Smoke and Fire might break your heart, but its also a book of sublime beauty that will engrave itself into your memory for years to come.

The Independent (UK)
A blisteringly powerful tale of standing up to oppression and terror ... [a] haunting novel.

Booklist
A coming-of-age story that layers intergenerational trauma and political commentary on a decades-long epic... . Homa's portrait of Kurdish life in Iran brings readers closer to lived experiences that force questions of identity, homeland, and the traumas we inherit.

Author Blurb Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, author of The End of Iraq
At a time when the Kurds are so much in the news in Iraq and Syria, the Iranian government has erected a wall of silence around its own much larger Kurdish population. This magnificent novel penetrates that wall with its story of coming of age, oppression, and death. Beautifully written, it is the best new work of fiction to emerge from the Near East in a long time.

Author Blurb Joy Kogawa
There is no more urgent a task for humanity than more fully knowing one another...This desperate gift is what comes our way from Ava Homa, a brave and brilliant storyteller, the first female Kurdish novelist writing in English who shows us, through one family's story, the stakes faced by the Kurds. Read this book. Raise your voice. We can no longer afford the 'us and them' mentality if we are to survive.

Author Blurb Kevin McKiernan, author and award-winning documentary filmmaker of Good Kurds, Bad Kurds
Gripping...Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a haunting piece of political fiction and a gut-punch tale of an alienated Kurdish girl swimming upstream against a tide of sexism and ethnic hatred. The scars Homa bears as a Kurdish feminist reared under Iranian rule and living now in the 'cruelty of exile' are evident on every page.

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Beyond the Book

Kurdish Women Fight for Freedom

Peshmerga fighters standing in formationKurdistan is a mountainous region that includes parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. The Kurds' territory was first partitioned between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires in the 17th century. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne at the end of World War I divided the region into its current configuration. Despite its geographic size and a population of between 25 and 35 million Kurds, Kurdistan has never achieved statehood, and all efforts to establish independence have been met with brutal repression. Today, in Iraq and Syria, the Kurds have autonomously governed regions. In Armenia, the Kurds are granted a representative seat in parliament. In Turkey and Iran, where armed struggle for independence continues, Kurdish resistance groups are ...

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