The unforgettable, haunting story of a young woman’s perilous fight for freedom and justice for her brother, in 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 and imprisonment, and his own 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 and fearing the worst, Leila begins a campaign to save him. But when she publishes Chia’s writings online, she realizes that she too is in grave danger. A family friend with ties to Canada offers to help, but Leila must struggle to forgive him for his role in Chia’s disappearance.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds. A powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family, it is perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Rawi Hage's De Niro's Game and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
About the author
AVA HOMA is a writer, journalist and activist specializing in women’s issues and Middle Eastern affairs. She holds an MA in English and creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and she is the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada–Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship. Born and raised in the Kurdistan Province of Iran, Homa now divides her time between Toronto and San Francisco. Daughters of Smoke and Fire is her debut novel.
“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.” — Booklist
“While this book is about a Kurdish family in Iran, the story could be about any minority living under the rule of an oppressive majority demanding their assimilation. Homa has created a story that’s both personal and universal in its scope. Daughters of Smoke and Fire might break your heart, but it’s also a book of sublime beauty that will engrave itself into your memory for years to come.” — Blogcritics
“A blisteringly powerful tale of standing up to oppression and terror . . . [a] haunting novel.” — Independent
“There is no more urgent a task for humanity than more fully knowing one another. In our time we are witnessing the betrayal of the Kurds. A betrayal that would not have happened if the world knew them as intimately as we know our own. 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 40 million stateless Kurds. Read this book. Raise your voice. We can no longer afford the ‘us and them’ mentality.” — Joy Kogawa
“At a time when the Kurds are so much in the news in Iraq and Syria, the Iranian government has erected a wall of silence around its own much larger Kurdish population. This magnificent novel penetrates that wall with its story of coming of age, oppression, and death. Beautifully written, it is the best new work of fiction to emerge from the Near East in a long time.” — Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, author of The End of Iraq
“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
"A compelling narrative of consciousness and empowerment . . . . Striking and original in its refusal to romanticize life under oppression. . . .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
“Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a riveting story of a family that unlocks our imagination to the struggle of being and living as Kurds. An absorbing fiction with social and political insights into Kurdish identity, politics, and women’s lives. The audacious character, Leila, is memorable for her struggle to survive and to stay free. Ava Homa in fiction echoes the real dreams and desires of Kurdish women for freedom.” — Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, Director, Equity Studies, New College, University of Toronto
“This is a voice we all need to hear.” — Susan Holbrook, on Echoes from the Other Land
“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.” — Prose for Peace
“Stark and elucidating….Homa’s remarkable novel serves as a potent and illuminating window into the persecution of the Kurds, which has existed for decades and continues unabated today.” — BookPage
"Ava Homa’s debut novel is like nothing I’ve read. Poetic and brave, lyrical and unflinching, it offers a powerful political exposé into the persecution of the Kurdish people, a triumphant tale of one woman’s fight for equality, independence, and social justice, and a soul-melting love story. . . .Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a story we need to hear. It will change the way we see the world." — Carol Shaben, author of Into the Abyss