Prepare to see this book cover everywhere: The Women’s Prize for Fiction has announced its winning novel for 2018, and it’s a gripping, unique must-read.
The coveted title (and £30,000 prize) have been awarded to Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, a book which the judges referred to as ‘extraordinarily topical’.
Home Fire, which beat out books by authors including Jesmyn Ward and Jessie Greengrass, is a modern day retelling of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone, which documents and explores the relationship between three British-Pakistani siblings. Eldest daughter Isma spends years raising twin siblings headstrong Aneeka and Parvaiz, who hopes to ‘prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.’
Frequently reviewed as an ‘evocative’ and ‘powerful’ journey through their lives, the novel was published in August 2017, and has already sold 15,000 copies.
Sarah Sands, chair of judges, explained the book had been selected because the panel felt it ‘spoke for our times’.
‘Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties, love and politics,’ she said. ‘And it sustains mastery of its themes and its form.’
‘It is a remarkable book which we passionately recommend.’
The win is Kamila’s first, although she has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction twice before, in 2009 for Burnt Shadows and in 2015 for A God in Every Stone. Home Fire is her seventh novel to date.
And if you’ve already read Home Fire? Here’s the rest of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 shortlist to get stuck into:
- Sight by Jessie Greengrass
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman
- The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
- When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Sarah Sands added that she thought this year had produced a ‘dazzling’ shortlist – ‘it had depth and richness and variety. We were forcibly struck by the quality of the prose. Each book had its champions.’