cover image The Love Match

The Love Match

Priyanka Taslim. Salaam Reads, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-66590-110-9

Jane Austen meets Bengali cinema in Taslim’s joyful debut. Teenage Zahra Khan wants to be a writer, but her widowed, meddling Amma has other plans: to match Zahra up with a “suitable” Bangladeshi, Muslim boy. Amma’s concerns about Zahra’s future stem from Zahra’s father’s death, from which the family has struggled to financially recover. To help make ends meet, Zahra defers her acceptance to Columbia University to work at a Pakistani tea shop in Paterson, N.J. Amma sets Zahra up with handsome, affluent Harun Emon, 18; though the pair have no interest in each other, they fake-date to placate their families. Meanwhile, Zahra falls for coworker Nayim Aktar, “an orphan from a poor, fragmented family” and recent arrival from Bangladesh. But as her romantic feelings for Nayim flourish and her pretend relationship with Harun begins to feel real, Zahra is left at a crossroads between what her family expects and what she desires. Characters authentically and humorously code-switch between traditional Bengali and contemporary American sensibilities, imbuing dialogue with a rat-a-tat pace. Taslim draws from lived experiences, as detailed in an author’s note, to offer a textured exploration of intersectional South Asian Muslim identity. Ages 12–up. Agent: Quressa Robinson, Folio Literary. (Jan.)

Correction: The text of this review has been adjusted to correct two proper nouns.