Grab your most beloved ’90s romantic comedy and shovel the gooey treat into a paperback book. Next, sprinkle a dash or two of culture, mold in one strong and super hijabi heroine and pour in a gallon of hilarity. Sweet! You’ve got Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik!
The typical rom-com is simple, predictable and alarmingly white. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged defies standards on all three counts. The plot follows Sofia Khan (surprise!) as she endeavors to type up a novel on Muslim dating. Already simple (writing a book is never simple), predictable (Muslim dating and predictable don’t quite mesh) and alarmingly white (an adventure through Pakistani culture awaits!) have been struck out.
The ignorant could learn lesson upon lesson from Ayisha Malik’s beauty. Sofia tackles stinky men yelling “terrorist” on the tube and casual workplace racism. Impurities within South Asian culture surface too—anti-blackness and homophobia remain problems within the community. Not only will a casual racist or two realize their prejudice, but they might also chortle as Sofia indirectly confronts the reader’s phobias.
The true effervescence, however, lights up the how and not the what. Not only does Sofia rise against ignorance, but she also manages to maintain subtle snark and heavy hilarity. A light-hearted presence rampages through the novel and is undeniably alluring.
“Oi!” I shouted back. “Terrorists don’t wear vintage shoes, you ignorant wanker!”
No need to be unreasonable, flaws do exist within Sofia’s strong-willed and enchanting character. Of course, the flaws only create a more perfect tale. Often an impossible moral standard coerces hijabis, but Sofia’s flaws expose the humanity in everyone. A curse or two and a bit of a smoking problem prove not every soul is perfect. Still, Ayisha Malik is confident there is strength in choosing the relatively peaceable life of a hijabi: “‘What about all those women that actually choose to live this pretty sedate life?’ That’s part of the strength of a lot of the characters: they know what they want.”
Once you’ve patted yourself on the back for reading such an educational tale, simmer into a surprising romance. Sofia’s love interest isn’t expected and thus furthers the theme of the novel: people rise richer than their stereotypes. So pick at the pages! Slow burn is the best burn!
Thus, gift away. Gift to the ignorant wankers in your life and watch as an educated gleam washes over. If that fails, gift to yourself and giggle in glee as Sofia astounds and amazes. Undoubtedly, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is an entertaining, surprising and delicious novel.
Buy Sofia Khan is Not Obliged here! (One for you and one for the anti-muslim wanker.)