Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Set primarily in Iran, this extraordinary debut novel weaves 50 years of modern Kurdish history through a story of a family facing oppression and injustices all too familiar to the Kurds. Leila dreams of making films to bring the suppressed stories of her people onto the global stage, but obstacles keep piling up. Her 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.
Inspired by the life of Kurdish human rights activist Farzad Kamangar and published to coincide with the 10th anniversary of his execution, Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the lives and stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds. It’s an unflinching but compassionate and powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family. A landmark novel for our troubled world, Daughters of Smoke and Fire is a gripping and important read, perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
This recommended reading and discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with Abrams Books.
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Traveling through books is a rewarding experience—inexpensive, convenient, and heart-opening.Daughters of Smoke and Fire takes you to Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, and Canada. How was your experience following characters across the globe?
Readers often like to see what they have in common with people in various parts of the world. Did you see parts of yourself reflected back to you in Daughters of Smoke and Fire? What were they? Did you relate to one character more than others? Who were they and what made that character most relatable?
Daughters of Smoke and Fire opens a window into the challenging lives of stateless people who have been robbed of their right to live, or to live in peace. It’s a difficult novel to write and to read. Why is it important for us to read untold stories? What did you gain from reading this novel in particular?
Daughters of Smoke and Fire: A Novel
"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
“There is no more urgent a task for humanity than more fully knowing one another. . . . 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 the Kurds. Read this book. Raise your voice. We can no longer afford the ‘us and them’ mentality if we are to survive.” -- Joy Kogawa
“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 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.” ― Seattle Post Intelligencer