Jan 22 2019. view 77
Kamila Shamsie’s book Home Fire was the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction of 2018. It takes the shape of its story from Sophocles’ ancient tragedy Antigone.
When asked what inspired her to write the story based on an ancient tragedy, she replied that
“a theatre director in London asked me to write a play for him and suggested that one idea might be a contemporary re-telling of the Greek tragedy ‘Antigone’. When I read ‘Antigone’ I saw immediately how it spoke to very contemporary issues - about the relationship between a state and its citizens, and about relationships within families - and I knew that I wanted to re-tell it as a novel.”
In an interview with us, we asked Kamila if it was difficult to write a story based on a play.
“I knew from the start that I would discard anything in the original that didn’t work well in the novel, so I always gave myself that freedom. And I also knew that if I set it within the world of 2016, and created fully-realized characters who were very much of their time and place, there would be enough to make it distinct. The difficulty came because I’m so used to the adrenaline rush of making plot up as I go along through the first draft and I missed that - knowing what came next sometimes felt as though it left less room for invention. But then you realize that the challenge is to write it in a way so that even someone who knows the original play will be surprised and moved by it”
At her session, Kamila Shamsie spoke to us about her writing and its influences and scope. “Nothing I’ve written is autobiographical but I think I use things around me and the situations around me as a base.”
She also read several experts from her book.
“It was an extremely insightful session with thought-provoking questions which were answered with humour, passion and sensitivity. She was very enlightening and covered a range of topics in an unpretentious manner” - Neluka