Competition published on April 7, 2017.
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.
**We have 2 copies of The Other Half of Happiness to give away – scroll down for your chance to win!**
Who better to introduce her second novel and sequel to Sofia Khan is Not Obliged than Ayisha Malik?
Meet Sofia Khan; British, Muslim, hijabi, smoker of cigarettes, and now married to the love of her sheltered life. The semi-uncertain ending (happy and certainty are two different things) of Sofia Khan is not Obliged had to lead the way into a sequel that would be about a marriage of ambiguity and discovery. Self-discovery included.
Its title, The Other Half of Happiness, perhaps subconsciously, came from that memorable statement from Jerry Maguire: ‘You complete me.’ I loved the film but this line has me shaking my head every time because it inspired a generation of expectation; that somehow an inexplicable emotional void can be filled by the person you’re with, or by someone you’ve not even met yet. No-one completes anyone. Even you don’t complete yourself, and if you do then I’d like to have your therapist’s number.
Because how well do you know the person you’ve fallen in love with? And what happens when your ideas of marriage and its reality don’t quite mesh? What exactly happens on the other side of happily ever after? The Other Half of Happiness isn’t really about a marriage so much as it is about what happens to a marriage when expectation and dishonesty collide. And, of course, the downside of impulse. It’s about the travails of negotiating love and the in-laws; wanting more than just marriage; the way friendships change and how families make you realise that the person you marry comes with blood related baggage.
I hope, though, that it’s also peppered with humour and optimism. Yes, it’s a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t fall in love with love stories. But it’s also a story which shows that happiness can lie anywhere – it’s just that it’s usually not with one person, but rather with people. And, of course, a passion that is your own.
It was a 5* read for nb reviewer and contributor Jade Craddock:
Last year Ayisha Malik burst onto the scene with her bold, original and humorous debut, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, which followed the dating disasters of the eponymous Muslim heroine. In the follow-up, The Other Half of Happiness, Malik continues Sofia’s story, as she negotiates the particular travails of married life, and specifically the ups and downs in a mixed-race marriage, and like its predecessor this is a novel bursting with elan and laughs.
There has been much discussion recently about diversity in literature and Malik’s novel answers the call resplendently, not only challenging the concept of the Muslim female protagonist but challenging the very nature of the rom-com. Malik balances wonderfully Sofia’s experiences as a Muslim woman against her universal experiences, creasing in Sofia Khan a dynamic and relatable heroine for all readers. Sofia is the perfect blend of proud and principled and feisty and sportive, and fits right in with all of the very best ‘chick lit’ heroines who are in equal parts flawed and likeable. Her struggles with family and relationships are too the quintessence of the rom-com genre but the added contexts of religion and identity offer a dazzling new perspective, and all delivered with Malik’s irrepressible wit.
As well as Sofia herself, Malik peoples the novel with a magnificent ensemble who add brilliantly to the vibrancy and energy of the novel, and top amongst them is Sofia’s mum, who is always on hand with a droll one-liner, not to mention at the epicentre of many of the novel’s most hilarious scenes. Although there are also more serious elements to the novel, these are largely kept off-stage as it were, which prevents the novel from ever becoming too navel-gazing or maudlin and keeps up the buoyant spirit which is where the novel really excels. Personally I really appreciated the fact that the novel didn’t turn into a weepie and that the poignant moments of the novel were allowed to breathe but never to fester. Again I think Malik strikes the balance perfectly in the novel’s tone, encapsulating on the lighter side of the novel and heroine Sofia. The diary mode in which the story is written really suits the buoyancy of the novel’s style too and all of the elements just seem to work consummately with each other to create the finished product.
Readers who enjoy the likes of Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk will find something both similar yet original in The Other Half of Happiness, but it is definitely worth reading Sofia Khan is Not Obliged first to really make the most of this series. For me, all in all, I was mightily impressed by Malik’s second offering. She is without doubt a very talented writer, with an eye for the comic potential of situations, and brings something original and relevant to the table. My only hope is that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Sofia, I’m sure given the ending there’s plenty more to come and I will be eager to see just what else is in store.
For your chance to win a copy of The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik simply fill in the form below:
The Competition is closed.
About the author
Ayisha Malik holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology, and a First Class MA in Creative Writing. She worked at Penguin Random House before moving to Cornerstones where she was managing editor for five years. Her debut novel, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (Twenty7), was met with great critical acclaim and was a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick in 2016. The book has also been optioned for TV. The sequel, The Other Half of Happiness (Zaffre), is out April 2017. Ayisha is also the ghost writer for Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain’s book, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters (Harlequin). She is now a full-time writer and is working on her third novel, as well as Nadiya’s second book.
Follow Ayisha on Twitter @Ayisha_Malik
Join the conversation #SofiaKhan
The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik, published by Zaffre on 6 April, 2017 in paperback
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