2019

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, by Ayisha Malek

Billed as the Muslim Bridget Jones, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is the hilarious romantic comedy from the writer behind Nadiya Hussain’s bestselling The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters. Sofia Khan is single once more, after her sort-of-boyfriend proves just a little too close to his parents. And she’d be happy that way too, if her boss hadn’t asked her to write a book about the weird and wonderful world of Muslim dating. Of course, even though she definitely isn’t looking for love, to write the book she does need to do a little research . . .

Ayisha Malik is a British Muslim born and raised in South London. She holds a First Class MA in Creative Writing. Her novels Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and The Other Half of Happiness starring ‘the Muslim Bridget Jones’ were met with critical acclaim. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, contributed to the anthology A Change is Gonna Come (Stripes Publishing): short stories and poems by BAME authors. Ayisha’s third novel This Green and Pleasant Land publishes in hardback in June 2019. She is also the ghostwriter for The Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain

Cityread 2019 launched with an event at the House of Lords on 1st May, with a live reading from the book by actress Anjli Mohindra. Running throughout the month, were many more live readings from the novel, and events in public libraries across 24 London boroughs plus Luton and Slough.

Cityread London 2019 was supported by a generous grant from Amal, a programme of the Saïd Foundation.  Key partnerships included the Museum of London, Aga Khan Centre, Waterstones Tottenham Court Road, and Picturehouse Greenwich.

Cityread 2019 Highlights

Supper with Sofia was an intimate dining event. Nabeela, Ikra & Nafeesa –  the mother and daughters team at Masala Wala – served up a home-cooked Pakistani feast, while we listened to a live reading of the novel by actress Sunetra Sarker and learnt more about the history of South Asian food in London from internationally published food writer and cookery teacher, Sumayya Usmani.

Book Giveaway.  You could get a free copy of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged at our book give away in the Gallery area at Westfield Stratford City.  Ayisha Malek was on hand to sign copies.

A Walking Tour of Spitalfields.  Spitalfields is an area of London synonymous with immigration, the original ‘melting pot’. In a fascinating walking tour, Blue Badge Guide Katie Wignall explored changes in the Muslim community, from post- war to present day: as well as looking at the stories of other groups who have made Spitalfields their home.

Sofia Khan, Queenie and the ghost of Bridget Jones.   This event brought Candice and Ayisha together in conversation with Helen Lederer, as the authors discussed multicultural identity, female experience, giving voice to characters rarely seen in literature and why we keep coming back to Bridget Jones.

Sofia Khans Happy Ending. A joyful end to our Cityread festival, journalist Sarah Shaffi hosted a Loose Women panel discussion on the book and its associated themes. The panel comprised the author Ayisha Malik and actress Nina Wadia, along with writer and activist Mariam Khan, and founder of Bradford Literature Festival Syima Aslam. With readings from the novel, music and henna, and concluding with an Iftar meal taken together, this was a very special ending to a wonderful month.

Ayisha Malik says: “I couldn’t be more excited for Sofia Khan is Not Obliged to be selected for Cityread this year. It’s already a special year for me with the publication of my third novel This Green and Pleasant Land in June, and to have my debut book out there again with the whole of London reading it is just wonderful!” Click here for Ayisha’s Cityread Intro Video

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Ayisha and her enduring novel Sofia Khan is not Obliged has been chosen as this year’s Cityread London. Ayisha’s distinctive voice is smart, funny and engaging and now even more readers will have the opportunity to discover her brilliant writing. I’m so proud that Bonnier Books UK is taking part in this annual celebration of literature and meaningful cultural moment for London.” Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books UK

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