Sound and Fury: Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire is a post-9/11 Antigone. This is signalled by the novel’s epigraph from Seamus Heaney’s 2004 translation of Socrates’ lines: ‘The ones we love . . . are enemies of the state’. Heaney’s tyrant king goes on to declare: ‘Whoever isn’t for us | Is against us’. The Irish poet brought new meaning to Antigone in light of the Bush slogan ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists’. Shamsie adds fresh layers in her reconsideration of the classic play. The novel explores the issue of British Muslims joining ISIS and on return being denied citizenship. Accordingly, this article discusses some big questions posed by Shamsie, which deal with such topics as language, assimilation, difference, and justice. My overarching themes, however, are the novel’s leitmotifs of sound and fury; I argue that Shamsie subtly considers whether we need to “listen to”— while simultaneously refusing to condone— jihadists. Tropes of noise and violence pierce Shamsie’s Home Fire at regular intervals. The Pakistani novelist listens to others, to individuals who are usually unattended to: most notably, radicalized subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)202-219
Number of pages18
JournalMassachussetts Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Uploaded with permission of the publisher/copyright holder. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • Kamila Shamsie
  • Home Fire
  • Sound
  • Terror
  • Antigone
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Literature

Cite this