We cover representation, gorgeous cover art, and writing about characters finding and using their voices. It’s so much fun – Uzma is a wonderful guest.
Author Uzma Jalaluddin deploys romance tropes to expand the boundaries of the genre.
After updating Pride and Prejudice with her debut romance, author Uzma Jalaluddin turns to a more modern but no less beloved classic: You’ve Got Mail. Her sophomore novel, Hana Khan Carries On, is a retelling of the beloved Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks rom-com that swaps the film’s duelling bookstores for halal restaurants. The titular Hana helps run Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, a community staple that’s owned and operated by her family. Unfortunately, sales are down, and an upscale halal eatery opening nearby could put them out of business for good.
But Hana’s heart is not in the restaurant business. She launched her own podcast while interning at a local radio station and recently formed a flirtation with an anonymous caller. Add in a fearsome, scene-stealing aunt and a cousin so compelling he seems destined for his own spinoff novel, and Hana has her hands full.
I started my Ramadan prep late this year. Usually, I would have spent the weeks leading up to Islam’s holiest month taking a careful inventory of supplies and preparing the staples and treats that help my husband, my two sons, and me weather long days of fasting. Every family has a different traditional early-morning meal, or suhoor. In my household, we make homemade egg muffins, fruit salad, and meat-filled pastries. My parents reheat rice and curry from their previous night’s dinner and, inexplicably, finish with Raisin Bran. My usual preparations, though, were derailed by the coronavirus’s many restrictions on everyday life—and by my own sadness about how different Ramadan would be this year.
During Ramadan, I find solidarity in the fast, an instant connection that comes from abstaining from food and drink alongside hundreds of millions of others. However, the sense of community—attending communal prayers, visiting friends and family, breaking fast in large gatherings, and anticipating Eid al-Fitr’s celebration at the end of the month—is what has propelled me and my family through past Ramadans. None of that is possible this year. The holy month is supposed to disrupt everyday life, but this year it has been disrupted by a worldwide calamity. Muslims globally are experiencing the strangest Ramadan ever. The feeling of togetherness that is so important during this month is difficult to replicate alone at home, but I am trying to help my family find their own special connection to this Ramadan.
Centennial College journalism students interview Uzma Jalaluddin, a columnist for the Toronto Star and author of Ayesha at Last, a novel that has been optioned for a movie.
A retelling of the classic Pride and Prejudice, Ayesha At Last is set in modern Toronto’s thriving Muslim community. Ayesha Shamsi is working as a substitute teacher as she pursues her real dream — spoken-word poetry — in the evenings. When she catches the eye of the rich boy across the street, sparks fly. They do not get along. At all. He thinks she’s too opinionated and independent. She thinks he’s too judgmental and rigid. This is a look at real, contemporary Muslim life from a Muslim point of view — eye-opening and wonderful. (KGB)