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Official Website of Author
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Staff Pick 
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Winner of the 2020 Silver Nautilus Award for Fiction 

Shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Daughters of Smoke and Fire
named a best novel of 2020 by: 
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“A fiery, soul-nourishing debut novel"

"One of the 5 biggest books of May"

 "A best new fiction"

"A must-read"

"One of the best reads of 2020"

Author nominated for the Frank O'Connor International Prize
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The unforgettable, haunting story of a young woman’s perilous fight for freedom and justice for her brother.

Set primarily 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, imprisonment, and his 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, Leila fears the worst and begins a campaign to save him. But when she publishes Chia’s writings online, she finds herself in grave danger as well.

Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the lives and stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds and a powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family, perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.

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Purchase links USA:
Purchase links Canada:
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Ava Homa is the award-winning author of  DAUGHTERS OF SMOKE AND FIRE,  a journalist, and an activist. Her words have appeared in the Globe and Mail, Guardian, BBC, New Statesman, LiteraryHub, Toronto Star, Literary Review of Canada, and many more outlets. She holds a Master's Degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor in Canada, and another in English Language and Literature from Tehran, Iran. She was born and raised in the Kurdistan province and now divides her time between Toronto and San Francisco. 


Her debut novel DAUGHTERS OF SMOKE AND FIRE won the 2020 Silver Nautilus Award for fiction and was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan Writing Prize. Her collection of short stories ECHOES FROM THE OTHER LAND  was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize. Homa is also the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship.

In different settings across North America and Europe--including in the United Nations, Geneva--Homa has delivered speeches on Kurdish women's triumphs and struggles, human rights in Iran, writing as resistance, unveiling through voice, the Iranian women's movement, and many other topics. She has taught Creative Writing workshops to writers from diverse age ranges and backgrounds, has judged writing contests, has served on the editorial board of the Write Magazine as well as the National Council of The Writers' Union of Canada, as its second vice chair. 

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“A fiery, soul-nourishing debut novel . . . Daughters of Smoke and Fire is the relentless and tender story of a sister desperate to save her brother from execution, of children finding their way out from under the weight of their parents’ trauma, and of how oppression steals a woman’s agency twice.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“A blisteringly powerful tale of standing up to oppression and terror . . . [a] haunting novel.”


Daughters of Smoke and Fire "unfurls the history of an oppressed people fighting for their right to live, love, thrive, and create. . .Homa peels back layers of sorrow and injustice to reveal the resilience and hope of so many Kurds living in the stateless nation." —Chicago Review of Books

"The power of “Daughters of Smoke and Fire” lies in its unpredictability and absence of good-evil stereotypes. . . “Daughters of Smoke and Fire” is a gripping and enlightening read, and Ava Homa’s voice is one that needs to be heard." Toronto Star

At once a feminist text, a story of survival in the face of adversity and an exploration of cruelty through the eyes of those who are powerless, “Daughters of Smoke and Fire” is a superb narrative that marks the arrival of a new voice in contemporary fiction. —San Francisco Chronicle

“Stark and elucidating . . .  Through the courageous character of Leila, Homa paints a picture of many Kurdish women who have struggled against persecution and misogyny. . . . Homa’s remarkable novel serves as a potent and illuminating window into the persecution of the Kurds.” —BookPage

“A searing, heartrending tale. . . . 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.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Homa is a talented storyteller, and her characters are vibrant and complex.... While the subject matter is vast and multifaceted, she deftly creates dialogue that is precise without seeming expositional and that always rings true as a reflection of her characters."

The Coachella Review

“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

What's truly remarkable about this book is how Homa not only personifies a people's suffering through one character, but also shows us how, piece by piece, the emotional and psychological trauma of living as a persecuted minority gradually destroys a person's confidence and spirit." Qantara

“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

"Ava Homa is a professional author and writes the way a duck takes to water. Her debut novel, Daughters of Smoke and Fire deserves a prominent spot in your study for your leisure hours. Between its pages lies a story of Kurdistan. You can own it for the price of the book."

The Culture Project

Read an excerpt on



“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 story teller, 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 if we are to survive.”


Joy Kogawa, author of Obasan


"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."
 —author of Women of a Non-State Nation: The Kurds, Prof. Shahrzad Mojab


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. Through the author’s deft and deeply human first-person narrative we also come to understand, viscerally, how it feels to live without freedom, and to face racism as a newcomer in a country that is not one’s own. In her book Homa asks: “Whose stories are heard? Whose lives are saved? Whose losses are mourned.” Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a story we need to hear. It will change the way we see the world, its lives saved and mourned, and one another.” – Carol Shaben, author of Into the Abyss


Gripping...Cinematic... 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


“Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a compelling narrative of consciousness and empowerment that skillfully intertwines the personal and political, joining a story of suffering and trauma with one of love and desire. The novel is striking and original in its refusal to romanticize life under oppression. It is a story of visible and invisible scarring, of violence and suffering transmitted across generations, of gender oppression and political exclusion and silencing, but it is also a moving and timely novel of hope and transformation, and of self-liberation.”

— author of Kurds and the State in Iran: The Making of Kurdish Identity, Professor Abbas Vali


“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

Daughters of Smoke and Fire has been featured on:

The Globe and Mail: "Best new read" of the spring

Reader's Digest: The Best 14 Reads From the 2020 Quarantine Book Club

The Independent: One of the five "biggest books" of May

Now Magazine: 14 must-read books for spring 2020

Hamilton Review of Books: Editors' Picks 


 Critics on Echoes from the Other Land

"Ava Homa is Canada’s exquisite answer to Raymond Carver. Homa announces new beginnings—less irony, more hope—and from a breathtakingly multicultural and international perspective. Readers will experience awe and beauty at the force of Homa’s art to convey female Iranian protagonists wholeheartedly grasping their lives. A taut and subtle plain-spokenness enlivens her writing, belying rich dramatic tensions that build just beneath the surface—which will surprise readers and then  captivate them." 

--Louis Cabri, author of Posh Lust

"Fine stories, subtle and evocative, disturbing in their impact."

 M G Vassanji, author of Nostalgia

“Subtle and powerful, haunting the reader with the silence between the words.” 
Carole Giangrande, author of The Tender Birds

"Ranging across regions, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and political dispositions, Homa’s characters give us a prismatic portrait of Iran that resists both internal tyrannies and Western demonization. Her style is elegantly spare, gem-solid. This is a voice we all need to hear."

Susan Holbrook, author of Throaty Wipes

“Homa uses very tight, descriptive prose that takes us right into the moment of the story. She describes sights, smells, textures and sounds, as well as emotions, disagreements and passions that cut deeply to the heart of knowing her characters from the inside. She does this with an almost painful honesty, a striking truth and vulnerability that cannot be dismissed or ignored.” 
—Black Coffee Poet 


The latest




Keynote speaker at California State University Monterey Bay

International Week Festival

Nov. 15, 2022, 4-5:30 pm 

Speaker at the University of California, Irvine

Nov. 17, 2022

6-7:30 pm pst

Read an excerpt on 

Books, Awards, Honors
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Awards. Honors.

Winner of the 2020 Silver Nautius Awrad for fiction

Short-listed for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing


The inaugural recipient of PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship  

Nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Award: The World’s Largest Short Story Prize

Second Vice Chair of the National Council of  The Writers’ Union of Canada     2015-2018


 Jury for the 2016 Freedom to Read Award                                                         2016

Writer-in-Residence at the Joy Kogawa Historic House, Vancouver, BC             May-July 2013

PEN Lecturer-in-Residence at the George Brown College, Toronto,                   Sep 2012-March 2013

Writer-in-Residence at R.D. Lawrence, Minden Hill, Ontario                               Jan–Dec. 2012


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Ava Homa speaks at the United Nations,  


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New Novel Set In Iran Is The First Written In English By A Kurdish Woman

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Literary Agent


Chris Kepner

The Kepner Agency

Publicist in the U.S.

Andrew Gibeley
(860) 508-0380

 Publicist in Canada

Cindy Ma 

(647) 256-3395 

                            Contact Ava directly via this form


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