Book Review: Daughters of Smoke and Fire
“Literature fuels us to bring awareness to and change our conditioning formed over thousands of years, according to which a person who looked different was equated with danger.” - Ava Homa, Author’s Note
“Talking about our reality is not spreading hate. It’s inviting understanding.” --Daughters of Smoke and Fire, Ava Homa
--And this is exactly what Ava Homa does in her debut novel, Daughters of Smoke and Fire. She brings awareness about a population, a community of people, in which the world has turned a blind eye. Through rich character development and carefully weighted words, Ava captures the intense struggles of the Kurds in the Middle East and their deep desire for their homeland, in which they are continually told is nonexistent.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a hybrid between Khaled Hosseini’s fictional writing and the heaviness of the Syrian voices represented in Wendy Pearlman’s We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled. Ava’s beautiful writing had us highlighting paragraphs to reread and enjoy all over again. Her storytelling is heart-wrenching and she brings a powerful narrative to light.
The story follows Leila and Chia, a sister and brother who live in Iran, and moves through points in their childhood that shape their identities regarding gender roles, cultural expectations, and being a minority. Leila aspires to be a filmmaker and Chia has aspirations to continue in his father’s footsteps of activism. When Leila finds out her brother has been imprisoned, what small world she has left is forcefully taken from her. Under the thumb of a tyrannical nation, she pushes through the trauma, pain, and fear of death to give Chia, her brother, a voice.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire not only provides us with a voice that we have been missing, but it serves as a great equalizer of humanity and is a call to action to expose the oppression, persecution, and prejudices that are still very much alive and neglected in today’s world of globalization. We live in a time where a global pandemic can affect every human’s way of life on this earth. It knows no international boundaries, no race or ethnicity is immune, and it demands a sense of solidarity amongst the nations to find solutions and heal our land. Just think about how powerful it would be if we had the same sense of urgency in eradicating this hatred experienced by the Kurds (and many other communities around the globe). Every being wants AND deserves a place where he/she belongs—a country, a sense of security, and a home.
If you need something to read while you’re staying safe at home, we highly recommend Daughters of Smoke and Fire. The book is freshly published (May 12th, 2020) and ready to be devoured! We encourage you to go buy a copy from your favorite indie bookstore!
We received an eArc from the author, Ava Homa, in exchange for an honest review. We are sincerely honored to have read the first novel ever published in English by a female Kurdish writer. Congratulations, Ava, on an incredible piece of work. We can’t wait to see the world’s response to your powerful story.