XXY Reads: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

XXY Reads: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

There are a few books you get excited for. The books you ask your parents for when it’s your birthday because wherever you look (meaning YouTube), everyone is buzzing about it. I am talking about Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, published by imprint Twenty7 Books.

Other than the obvious, by which I mean that it was about time that we had a female protagonist who is Muslim and not a) bombing anyone, b) a relative of someone who is a terrorist, this is also a book about a Muslim girl that is not a tale of oppression in the East.

The novel has been labelled as the ‘Muslim Bridget Jones’ by a few Booktubers, but Malik, who used to be a publicist at Random House and is currently an editor at Cornerstones Literary Agency, states that she wrote the novel for the girls out there who, just like her, loved the classics but also needed a sense of familiarity in what they were reading. Especially if you are a young Muslim girl and all the characters you are reading about are only known to be of a different race or religion, if clearly stated.

This is a novel about a publicist working in publishing who is accidentally given the task of writing a book about Muslim dating (and yes, shaadi.com is mentioned). Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged is a book for everyone, whether you can relate to the traditional Southern Asian household, understand “the hole in the wall” situation or have people asking you constantly when the big day is. What I found refreshing about the title is how relatable the idea of having to find a partner – just because you’re thirty – is. Damn that ticking clock.

What is also enlightening is how different marriages are shown: a perspective of living with the mother-in-law, a polygamous marriage or simply being attached to someone who will not commit because of your past. As well as the fact that Khan does not lose her faith any time through the novel, if anything, it reflects the security blanket and peace it brings to her life. For once, we are dealing with a story where a character being religious does not diminish how intelligent they are. There may be a Mark Darcy in this heartwarming romantic comedy but this novel is more important in that it is  a reminder of what a real character is like. This is not just about the array of people shown, but how well rounded the protagonist is formed. Just as she is a Muslim woman, she is one who may sometimes regret a cigarette or two whilst being late for meetings and being wary of men who wear fancy scarves around their neck in supermarkets where it is not needed.

This is a must read and I do not say that lightly and therefore, you are most definitely, obliged.


Written by Tahmina Begum / @tahminaxbegum



Media courtesy of Twenty7 Books