cover image The Royal Abduls

The Royal Abduls

Ramiza Shamoun Koya. Forest Avenue, $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-942436-41-6

Koya’s accomplished debut examines Indian-American identity and bigotry against a Muslim family after 9/11. In 2005, newly arrived in Washington, D.C., to start postdoc research on wild silk moths, Amina Abdul tries to help her brother Mohammed deal with his imploding marriage. Meanwhile, her 11-year-old nephew, Omar, elicits scrutiny after bringing Amina’s decorative Indian knife to show his classmates (“In these times, a Muslim child brings a knife to school—we can’t just not report it,” the principal says to Amina, explaining why she called the police). After Omar watches al-Qaeda videos online, the family’s ISP reports his activity to the police, who arrest Mohammed and briefly detain him . Meanwhile, Amina faces sexism in the workplace as her lab work is overlooked. Further complicating things is Amina’s romance with a coworker’s brother, whom she is unwilling to tell about a job offer in India. As Amina considers the move, she continues to worry about Mohammed and Omar, who both self-destruct in their own ways as they struggle to find their place and navigate their identity. Koya writes sharply about what it means to be South Asian in the U.S. after 9/11, and skillfully weaves the family members’ conflicts and predicaments. This is a mature, fully realized effort. (May)