sofia khan is not obliged review

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.

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17 thoughts on “sofia khan is not obliged review

  1. A.M.B. says:

    I loved Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, and I recognized a lot of aspects of my Muslim family in Sofia and her relatives (though my family lives in a different country and comes from a different country than Sofia’s family does). I hadn’t thought about the ace erasure issue before I saw your post. That’s concerning (both that it’s in the book and that I hadn’t noticed it). To me, it’s interesting that Sofia is saying what she’s found through Google. I wonder whether it’s a search the author actually tried when she was writing the book. If so, the fact that there weren’t any articles shows just how pernicious ace erasure is. I appreciate that people like @AmzngBookshelf and you have raised it so that more people are aware of the fact that this is a problem. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pia says:

    I really appreciate this thoughtful review and pointing out the instance of ace erasure! It’s not something I might have noticed reading through myself. This book is definitely on my tbr, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a book with a strong voice and a fierce hijabi protagonist while being aware of a problematic aspect.

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  3. Bina says:

    This book sounds so great and fun and I wanted to read it soon. But it’s concerning that it has ace erasure, I’m very glad it was pointed out by @AmzngBookshelves and I know I need to watch out to not read over things like that. Sad how the hijabi rep is so wonderful, but that happened. My mind is a sieve so I started a list to make sure I don’t rec it to ace friends!

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  4. Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

    As a demi-gray-ace reader who’s had this book on their TBR for a while: thank you so much for your ETA. I fully expect to love this book, and if I hadn’t been forewarned, that section of the book would’ve staggered me. It’s one (unacceptable) thing to be misrepresented or erased by a book you don’t particularly enjoy; it’s another thing entirely to be fully engaged and connected with a book, only to have it casually gut you on a personal level along the way. So: thank you for the warning.

    Other than that, I’m thrilled to hear that the book lived up to your expectations; that makes me even more hopeful that it’ll live up to mine. Maybe I’ll have to bump it up on my TBR? I could use something fun and humorous in my life.

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    • whatthelog says:

      You are very welcome. I was quite ashamed that I didn’t notice it myself – this has really given me a kick up the butt to look for microaggressions like this. And I totally get what you mean – I was entirely prepared to read and love Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit (YA f/f) but on the third page it turns biphobic :/

      Yay! I recently finished an autobiography of a comedic journalist and her battles with mental illness – although sobering, it was still funny, which is important when talking about things like this, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

        Aw, I hope you aren’t beating yourself up for not noticing. Nobody notices EVERYTHING. But hurray for motivations to be on a closer lookout for problematic language and unquestioned assumptions!

        Ugh, I’m so sorry a book you were sure you’d love turned around and spat on you. That’s absolutely awful, and I hope you were able to follow it up with something better.

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  5. Grab the Lapels says:

    The fact that the book is so like Bridget Jones (even down to writing the time each entry because apparently she runs back to her diary constantly) would bother me unless the narrator acknowledges how like another book her native is.

    Like

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