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Sofia Khan is Not Obliged - Ayisha Malik

Have you heard about the Poppy Loves Bookclub? If not, go check them out! I first learnt of ‘Sofia Khan is Not Obliged’ via the book club’s Instagram feed and the cover page and plot summary instantly piqued my curiosity.

I have always been intrigued by immigrant stories and cross-cultural influences and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was right up my street! This is not your typical serious sounding novel. It is full of humour and some may even class it as a ‘romantic comedy’. I loved the protagonist Sofia Khan who is a first generation British Pakistani living with her parents and sister in London.

Sofia works at a media/publishing firm and is somehow (perhaps because of her “diverse” profile) is asked by her boss to write a book about the Muslim dating scene! And here starts Sofia’s journey to find stories for her book.

Sofia has a tight knit group of girlfriends who clearly provide her with strong emotional support. Her relationship with her older sister and parents is very endearing. Whilst having just come out of a long-standing relationship with a guy that she thought she would end up marrying (if only that hole in the wall situation didn’t occur – yes, read the book!) Sofia has to constantly battle with relatives who are obsessed with finding out when she plans to get married. The chaos that often ensues in a South Asian family especially during joyous occasions or festivals can be quite deterring when one has a book to write or a job to complete! This brings Sofia to befriend their unassuming Irish neighbour Conall with the hope of finding some peace and quiet i.e. writing time.

During the course of the story the author Ayisha Malik has tactfully presented racial stereotypes surrounding the wearing of the hijab, facing racist comments and alcohol consumption. Malik’s writing style makes for easy reading and there were a few moments that made me laugh out loud even on London’s very serious underground.

As we are led through Sofia’s life you realise that outside of the socio-cultural boundaries that seem to exist as a result of her religion and/or race, Sofia’s motivations, desires and a will to succeed resonate with any other girl her age.

This is Malik’s first book and I am already on a look out for another book by her. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is a truly heart-warming read!


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