Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik has been heavily marketed as the Muslim version of Bridget Jones. And you know what? It totally is.
Like Bridget Jones, Sofia Khan is written in a diary format. It follows just about a year of her life as she tries to find love (especially a husband that her parents will approve of, but who won’t make her live in a hole-in-the-wall with his parents). She’s also writing a Muslim dating book, and we get little snippets of it throughout the novel. These were some of the most funny parts, I thought, because they were so deliciously snarky.
Sofia herself is a delight. Irreverent and ‘sage-like’ yet willing to punch Islamaphobes in the nose, she is a working woman who is trying to balance everything at once. She finds strength in her spirituality and her friends, and is unafraid to call out her co-workers’ and family’s behaviour. She is also hilariously deadpan – this is definitely a British type of humour.
I am not Muslim myself, so I can’t say anything about how accurate a representation it was. I will say that if you have a general knowledge about Islam you should be absolutely fine in understanding most of the references. Malik is really good at explaining various traditions and customs – mainly by riffing on them in a quite hilarious manner.
This is the type of novel that is sorely needed today, I think. It has completely invigorated the rom-com for me, and I can’t wait to pre-order the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness!
NB: This is my choice in Diversity Bing 2017 for ‘Hijabi MC’.
ETA: There have been a lot of discussions on Twitter about ace erasure – brought up by @AmzngBookshelf. This is a really important point, and one that I’m afraid that I missed. It is such a shame when a book so accurately represents one minority group, and completely ignores the existence/misrepresents another. I would definitely give this thread a read, and I’m going to take a look at myself to try and understand why I didn’t pick up on this.