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Author Kamila Shamsie wins Women’s Prize for fiction

LONDON: Pakistani-British author Kamila Shamsie has won the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 for her seventh novel Home Fire.

The novel reworks the Greek tragedy Antigone to tell the story of a British Muslim family’s connection to Islamic State. The novel follows three orphaned siblings, elder sister Isma and twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, the latter who leaves London to work for the media arm of ISIS.

Announcing Home Fire as winner of the £30,000 award, chair of judges Sarah Sands said the panel “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.”

Shamsie, who grew up in Karachi and now lives in London, beat a shortlist that included US author Jesmyn Ward’s novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, for which she won the National Book Award, and Imogen Hermes Gowar’s debut, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

“It was a hard-argued choice, but it was unanimous,” said Sands. “It was extremely difficult, because of the richness and variety of the shortlist – imagine how you compare the experience of race in America versus courtesans and mermaids.

“But when we set out to decide what felt like the story of our times, [Home Fire] was the right choice.”

Home Fire was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker prize. Sands said that the books should be considered “a really good page-turner.”

Shamsie has been shortlisted for the Women’s prize twice before, and is a vocal supporter of female authors.

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