Book Discovery: Daughters of Smoke and Fire: A Novel by Ava Homa
" 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. "
—Kevin McKiernan, author and award-winning documentary filmmaker of Good Kurds, Bad Kurds
About the Book
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.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the lives and stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds and a powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family, perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ 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. ”
“ Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a compelling narrative of consciousness and empowerment that skillfully intertwines the personal and political, joining a story of suffering and trauma with one of love and desire. The novel is striking and original in its refusal to romanticize life under oppression. It is a story of visible and invisible scarring, of violence and suffering transmitted across generations, of gender oppression and political exclusion and silencing, but it is also a moving and timely novel of hope and transformation, and of self-liberation.”
—Professor Abbas Vali, author of Kurds and the State in Iran: The Making of Kurdish Identity,
“ 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. ” —Joy Kogawa
“ I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this powerful and beautifully written novel. The story focuses on a young Kurdish woman's struggle for freedom, artistic expression, and self-actualization within Iran's oppressive regime—yet it is also about intergenerational trauma, human rights, and the challenges facing the millions of stateless Kurds in the world today.This is a compelling and original narrative of one woman’s empowerment and personal transformation. Despite coming of age in a society rife with sexism and racial discrimination, the story’s protagonist emerges scarred but strong. I love when novels explore an individual story set against a broader landscape—when they explore both the personal and the political—and Daughters of Smoke and Fire accomplishes this magnificently.” —Nancy, Amazon Reader's Review
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Ava Homa is a writer, journalist, and activist. DAUGHTERS OF SMOKE AND FIRE (May 2020) is her debut novel published by the HarperCollins in Canada & ABRAMS in the US. Her collection of short stories Echoes from the Other Land (Mawenzi, Toronto, 2010) was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize.
Homa is also the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship.In different settings across North America and Europe, Homa has delivered speeches on writing as resistance, human rights, gender equality, Kurdish affairs, media literacy, and other topics. She has a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor in Canada, another in English Language and Literature from Tehran, Iran, and a diploma in editing from Toronto. A Writer-in-Residence at the Historic Joy Kogawa House, BC (2013), George Brown College, Toronto (2012), R. D. Lawrence Cultural Centre, Minden Hills (2011), and the Open Book Toronto and Ontario (2011), Homa has taught Creative Writing workshops to diverse writers, judged writing contests, served the editorial board of the Write Magazine and the National Council of The Writers' Union of Canada.For more information visit www.AvaHoma.com