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Uzma Jalaluddin Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Ayesha at Last (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Uzma Jalaluddin was born in the year 1980, and is a Canadian Muslim. Besides writing fiction, Uzma writes about parenting and culture for The Toronto Star, in a humorous column called “Samosas and Maple Syrup”.

Her debut novel, “Ayesha At Last” was released in the year 2018 and is a romance novel. It is a bit of a revamped “Pride and Prejudice” that has been set in a close-knit Toronto Muslim community.

She loves “Pride and Prejudice” and keeps going back to it, she thinks, because of Austen’s inclusive, mischievous wit. She includes everybody in it. Some of the characters are middle class, some are wealthy. The humor is not mocking and you feel like you are actually in on the joke. She wants readers to laugh along with her. The books Austen wrote were really warm, she feels. Through this story, she wanted to introduce people to a Muslim community.

Uzma has always loved reading, and always wanted to write, but found it tough to find novels about people that looked like she did. So she decided to write one herself. She began writing the novel in the year 2010 when she was pregnant with her son, named Ibrahim, before she shelved it, then she dusted it off, finished it, after she told a seven year old Ibrahim all about it. In all, she spent about eight years, in total, working on and off on the book: from beginning to end.

When she began writing the novel, the world was not as interested in diversity at the time. People told her she should set the novel in America, but she insisted that it was a second-generation Canadian story. She wrote it because it was interesting to her and she figured, if nothing else, she would find it amusing. She never thought the book would see the light of day, or what the reception of it would be.

Uzma has always wanted to write novels, which came from a lifelong love of reading all kinds of books from different genres. “Ayesha At Last” is the second, maybe third that she wrote. The initial came to her when she was out to dinner with someone that was also a writer. It was about Khalid, a character that is a serious and devout man that dressed as if he truly belonged in seventh century Arabia. The thought flew into her mind and it made her want to laugh and write his story. His story wound up being a joyful love story.

This initial idea arrived to her easy, but the rest of the whole process was a slog. She wrote all of it before she attracted the attention of a literary agent and later a publisher. She would write on park benches or in coffee shops while she waited for her kids to finish up Scouts, swimming, or taekwondo.

Much like her main character, Uzma is a high school teacher, teaching Science and English to all grades. Her and fellow authors S. K. Ali and Ausma Zehanat Khan are a part of a writing circle known as The Sisterhood of the Pen. The three friends offer up valuable advice to each other as they read each other’s early drafts.

Writing the book brought her an incredible amount of happiness because she finds joy in the act of creating stories. Finding an audience, a supportive agent and later a publisher, has been gratifying for her, too. She enjoys hearing from people that have read her book and are able to relate to the characters, even if they are not immigrants or Muslim simply due to the themes she is tackling are universal. Working on the novel has increased her confidence in her own abilities as a writer.

It taught her the importance of always being organized and using time wisely, what little of it she has. Her work as a teacher has helped, since that involves taking an entire course and breaking it down into manageable, small chunks.

Some advice she has for writers is not to give up on your dreams. Read a ton and read in your own genre. It is also helpful to find people that you are comfortable sharing your work with.

The novel was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Award, and long-listed for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the Toronto Book Awards. The Globe and Mail named it among their 100 Favourite Books of the year 2018. Cosmopolitan UK named it their Book of the Year in the year 2019.

“Ayesha At Last” is the first stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2018. Ayesha Shamsi has a bunch going on. Her dreams of becoming a poet have been set aside for the teaching job she took so that she can pay off the money she owes her wealthy uncle. She lives with her lively Muslim family and is always being told that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal.

Though Ayesha is lonely, she wants nothing to do with an arranged marriage. She meets Khalid, who is just as handsome and smart as he is judgmental and conservative. She is irritatingly attracted to somebody that looks down on the choices she makes, and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

A surprise engagement is announced between Hafsa and Khalid, Ayesha is torn between how she feels for the straightforward Khalid as well as the new gossip she is hearing about his family. Looking into these rumors, she finds out that she has to deal with not just what she finds out about Khalid, but the truth she knows about herself.

This is an enlightening and timely narrative that echoes many of the experiences that Muslims and South Asians have, while working with universal themes like discrimination, identity, and class. The idea of arranged marriage is well used and is prominent in the story, but is used more to start discussions about change and tradition among the different generations. Besides that, it is also very relatable and hilarious.

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