cover image Kismet


Amina Akhtar. Thomas & Mercer, $15.95 trade paper (348p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3425-8

Early in this often hilarious bildungsroman from Akhtar (#Fashionvictim), health guru Marley Davenport persuades Ronnie Khan to leave Ronnie’s selfish aunt and New York City’s insular Pakistani community for Sedona, Ariz., home of the Kismet Center, “a one-stop wellness-o-rama place” for New Age groupies. Though Ronnie is quite insecure and emotionally needy, she’s too smart to be taken in by the crowd of white faddists, many of whom don’t know that India and Pakistan are different countries and insist that her dark skin means that she must be a Sufi mystic. Meanwhile, inspired by the flock of ravens that infests the town, someone has begun killing interlopers who are ruining the place’s natural beauty. As the ravens get bolder and Ronnie’s dreams become violent, she must declare independence and make some hard choices before the darkly happy ending. Sharp prose and convincing characters make up for some dangling plot threads, including one that involves some mysterious papers Marley supposedly received from a guru the women meet in Sedona. Still, readers will be curious to see what this talented author does next. Agent: Chris Bucci, Aevitas Creative. (Aug.)