The Eastern Eye

A Modern Take On Arranged Marriages

Tales of arranged marriages within Britain’s Muslim communities have an inescapable cliched ring to them, leaving the author of this latest tome with a Herculean task.

Musa is a gentle idealist, given to testing the boundaries of his conservative Muslim upbringing. When faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage, he strikes a deal with his overbearing family patriarch. Dadaji gives Musa 30 days to find a bride for himself or settle for whoever he chooses as his life partner.

Musa’s siblings and friends take it upon themselves to introduce him to potential women of his dreams. Their efforts, though very well placed, often have outrageous as well as, at times, hilarious consequences.

The London-born author of Pakistani descent clearly draws heavily from his personal experiences to create a rather amusing and gripping story. The contradictions of tradition and modernity are brought out with a flair not usually associated with a debut effort of this kind.

Musa’s hunt for a perfect bride takes the reader through an array of eccentric though believable characters. The strength of the book lies in its easy-going and accessible writing style, turning it into quite a page-turner as we are drawn into the world of a reluctant mullah.

Tackling the realities of honour killings and extremist interpretations of Islam with the right level of condemnation and sensitivity is Afzal’s biggest success.

It is a must-read for anyone keen on delving beyond newspaper headlines of fathers killing daughters and husbands leaving their wives mutilated in the name of religion.

Review by Aditi Khanna
© Eastern Eye 2010