Event Date: 

Saturday, October 21, 2023 - 11:15am





Daughters of Smoke and Fire: 

Art, Activism, and Identity

"At this juncture in Iranian history, when brave Iranians have fought peacefully against a brutal government in many different forms, authors and intellectuals need to become acutely aware of the necessity for the internal liberation of Iranian society: freedom from prejudices against women and minorities. A truly democratic and free country would embrace diversity as its strength and would dismantle the foundations of dictatorship that are empowered through divisions. Our freedom is intertwined, and intersectionality is a necessity.

Daughters of Smoke and Fire, a fiction rooted in factual events of the past fifty years, is a poignant and timely novel that both entertains and educates, offering a glimpse into the lives of a people whose story deserves to be heard and remembered.

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 during protests 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 the 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 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.” -Ava Homa

About Ava Homa

Ava Homa is an award-winning novelist and activist who teaches creative writing at the California State University, Monterey Bay. Her debut novel Daughters of Smoke and Fire (HarperCollins & Abrams, 2020), weaving fifty years of modern Kurdish history, was featured in Roxane Gay’s Book Club, the Unplugged Book Box, and Women for Women International. The book was listed as one of the “best books” of the year in outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the Independent (UK), and the Globe and Mail (Canada). 

Daughters of Smoke and Fire won the 2020 Nautilus Silver Book Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2022 William Saroyan International Writing Prize. One of the first novels in English by a Kurdish woman, Daughters of Smoke and Fire has earned its place in university curricula, with institutions such as the George Mason UniversitySouthern Methodist University, and the University of Toronto, where professors teaching Daughters of Smoke and Fire have invited Ava Homa to offer public talks. Her essays and short stories have appeared in five anthologies across the U.S., the UK, and Canada.

Her collection of short stories about modern Iranian women Echoes from the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her essays in English, Persian, and Kurdish, have been featured in publications such as the BBCGlobe and MailLiterary HubLiterary Review of Canada, and many more. She has delivered public speeches across North America and Europe, including at the United Nations in Geneva, and has been interviewed on national and international media.

Ava was born in Kurdistan and earned her first master’s degree in Tehran, Iran. 
Pursuing freedom, she secured admission and a scholarship to study at the University of Windsor in 2007. She now holds a master’s degree in creative writing and teaches writing at California State University, Monterey Bay. Her latest unpublished novel has earned her a $25,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, and a $10,000 fellowship from the California Arts Council.​ You can contact her through www.AvaHoma.com.