“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.”
“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.”
"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."
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."
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
“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
“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
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Daughters of Smoke and Fire has been featured on:
The Globe and Mail: The Best New Reads 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
"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
“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
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