I read Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire for a book club, and it blew me away with its insight into culture, religion, politics, and family. Adapting the play Antigone to novel form, Shamsie adds even more depth to the storyline. The two sisters and their brother find their lives separating as they follow their adult paths, a shaky family background underneath them. A boy enters their lives, adding a clash in politics. The London setting provides a realistic and modern backdrop for engaging insight into our times. This novel makes a great book for discussion on accepting, assimilating, and adapting cultures.
I recently read The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles after reading Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. Perhaps I should have read this one first considering Home Fire puts Antigone in novel form in a new time and place. However, reading it after gave me a greater appreciation for Shamsie’s work and allowed me to see it as fresh rather than guess the next point.
This ancient Greek tragedy makes for a different read. Where Home Fire makes its story relevant to current situations playing out in the world, The Oedipus Cycle provides the dark drama fitting of an old play. Yet they still carry a lot of the same weight when it comes to power, particularly in country and family dynamics. These plays give more context to the whole story, which fills in some of the background not provided in the retelling. Yet I still found Shamsie’s work had more depth to it, possibly due to the novel format allowing that or me relating to the current times more than the ancient Greek time. The myth element provides some intrigue, but Shamsie’s update to religion makes it that more accessible and realistic. It gets interesting to compare the power dynamics considering those differences. Ultimately, Sophocles reminds us how chasing power can come at the expense of a loss in family, kingdom and more.