Bibliomaniac's Book Club: February Read (PaperLight)


 published by Bonnier Zaffre in January 2016

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

What is it about?

"Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.' Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. 'Are your parents quite disappointed?'

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?
To read my full review please click here:

Sofia Khan is not Obliged: Questions

Watch this video of Ayisha chatting about why she wanted to write Sofia Khan, what sort of heroine she wanted Sofia to be and what she hoped readers would take away from her novel. Have a chat about anything that strikes you or you find interesting........

You Tube Video of Ayisha Malik talking about Sofia 

How did you find Sofia as a character? Did you like her? Relate to her? Sympathise with her?  Malik wanted to create a "character who readers would fall in love with and would perhaps stop that immediate link between Muslim and terrorists in people's minds". Did you fall in love with Sofia? 

The book opens with a quote from Sofia's blog: "Yes, I'm Muslim, Please Get Over It." Did you get over it? How much is this a book about being Muslim and how much is this a book about being a young woman in today's society? 

Malik uses a lot of extracts from blogs, emails and diaries. Did this work for you? 

"Some people like shopping, some people like therapy, I happen to like praying." How did you find this aspect of Sofia's character? How does this element add both comedy, empathy and depth to the novel?

"Yes, that scarf thing." Sofia's hijab is frequently referred throughout the novel and often becomes a point of discussion or contention within her own family as well as her wider community. Apart from the obvious, what else is it being used to symbolise? 

"Yes, I'd like to be known for writing that one awful book that had to be edited to within an inch of its life." What sort of insight does Malik offer into the world of publishing and the office staff she works with?

"Fresh", "Funny", "Groundbreaking", "Snort diet coke out of the nostrils funny" have all been used to describe this book. Which one word would you use to sum up this novel? 

This is a book about dating. Have you ever gone on a blind date, gone speed dating or joined an online dating agency? 

This book has been compared to Bridget Jones. Would you agree?

Have a chat about how the theme of love is presented in this novel. 

Have a chat about some of the other themes explored in this book: parenting, expectations, pressure, family, friendship, death.......


Below is a link to a You Tube clip featuring an interview with Ayisha Malik: 

You Tube Video Clip: Ayisha Malik on What's it like to be a Muslim Woman

Where to hold your book group for Sofia Khan is not Obliged:

  • Someone's front room 
  • In the corner of an office 

What could you serve?

  • Lemon Puffs
  • Chocolate digestives 
  • Coffee 
  • Diet Coke 

What props could you use to start a conversation about title?

  • A flyer for a dating agency or some dating profiles - or write your own!! 
  • A packet of biscuits 
  • vintage shoes 
  • cigarettes
Quotes to start a conversation with:

“I wanted women to come across as strong, not oppressed just because they wear a headscarf, not oppressed just because they choose to follow a certain belief system. The women I know aren’t downtrodden. It gets kind of nauseating when you have to read that over and over again. And I wanted them to be relatable characters despite their ethnic or cultural or religious origin.” Ayisha Malik

"Do you really think you'll find someone who adores you as much as I do?"

"Terrorists don't wear vintage shoes, you ignorant wanker!" 

"After I'd explained about common Asian practice, not only did I feel like a black sheep, but I would have quite like to be a sheep. Sheep are not judged." 

"Emma asks a lot of questions. I find this to be a problem. Not the questions, per se, just the assumption that I have the answers. I'm not an anthropologist." 

If you liked this book and want to read similar novels try:

  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding 
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
For more articles about Ayisha and more interviews with her about her writing, please click on the links below:

Article from WHSmith Blog on fresh talent about Ayisha Malik
Article from Buzzfeed about what writing means to Female Muslim Authors


Ayisha Malik

Ayisha is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing (though told most of her family it was an MA in English Literature – Creative Writing is not a subject, after all.) She has spent various spells teaching, photocopying, volunteering, being a publicist and a managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Agency.

Ayisha was one of WH Smith's Fresh Talent picks, Winter 2016.

Twitter @Ayisha_Malik


The Other Half of Happiness (Sofia Khan)

Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can't hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who's ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart

To find out more about Bibliomaniac's Book Club and further recommendations and reviews please follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

To find out about Bibliomaniac's February PaperWeight read please click here:


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