cover image Much Ado About Nada

Much Ado About Nada

Uzma Jalaluddin. Berkley, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-33638-0

Jalaluddin’s delightful latest (after Hana Khan Carries On) puts a rom-com spin on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Nada Syed works hard to launch the “Ask Apa” app, designed to offer sisterly advice to Toronto’s Muslim community, but a dishonest business partner undermines her efforts, forcing her to return to an engineering job she hates. As she approaches her 30th birthday, Nada is grappling both with this professional disappointment and with mounting parental pressure to find a spouse. To lift her spirits, Nada’s best friend, Haleema, takes her to Deen&Dunya, an annual Muslim convention (“like Comic-Con, except with hijabs”), for the weekend. There, Nada will finally meet Haleema’s fiancé, Zayn, and grudgingly participate in a speed-dating event. Upon arriving, however, Nada’s shocked to learn that Zayn’s brother is Baz Haq, whom she’s known since grade school and with whom she had an intense on-and-off relationship in college. As Nada navigates the convention, she and Baz try to conceal their romantic history from their loved ones while grappling with their unresolved emotions and simmering sexual tension. Jalaluddin makes their rekindling romance positively swoonworthy, and interfering family members and rich cultural detail add to this romance’s power. Austenite or not, readers will be swept away. Agent: Ann Collette, Rees Literary. (June)