In Literary Fiction, Are Capital-P Politics At all times at Play?

In Literary Fiction, Are Capital-P Politics At all times at Play?

By Nawaaz Ahmed

Anybody making an attempt to grasp Twenty first-century America by way of its literary fiction may consider that neither faith nor politics performs a major function in shaping the lives of its inhabitants. Politics with a lowercase p is usually at work, however with a capital P nearly by no means; and faith, one may say, is basically the protect of Marilynne Robinson. It was clear the Trump years would place a brand new set of calls for on the novel, although readers is not going to instantly acknowledge Nawaaz Ahmed’s debut, “Radiant Fugitives” — about an Indian American lady volunteering on Kamala Harris’s lawyer common marketing campaign in 2010 — as responding to those calls for.

The story begins in a San Francisco hospital room, the place a new child, Ishraaq, is narrating the loss of life of his mom, Seema, in childbirth. Seema’s ex-husband, Invoice, is pacing exterior alongside together with her mom, Nafeesa; whereas her sister, Tahera, is working by way of the hospital corridors towards them. From there the novel strikes again to Ishraaq’s conception, and explains the arrival of Nafeesa and Tahera in California days earlier than the beginning. We study that Seema has been estranged from her Indian household for years, ever since she got here out to them as a lesbian again in Chennai. Realizing that neither Invoice nor her new lover, Leigh, might be the help she wants with a child, a pregnant Seema turns to Nafeesa, who has little time left to dwell and needs above all to set issues proper between her two daughters. The sisters’ variations have solely widened since Tahera, now residing in Texas, sought sanctuary in an austere type of Islam.

Ishraaq’s narration, typically addressed to Nafeesa, is usually a distraction. There may be little to tell apart his voice from any third-person omniscient narrative, and also you shortly study to not pay a lot consideration, as an example, as he refers to Seema primarily by identify and infrequently as “my mom.” For some time this seems to be a reasonably standard story of a household confronting previous rifts and even older loves, its boldest act to offer us a deeply non secular Muslim character.

That’s, till the novel jumps again even additional, to 2003, when Seema meets Invoice at an Iraq battle protest. Ishraaq’s tone turns into extra energized, however its intimacy falls away as he follows Seema by way of a sequence of political campaigns that culminate in her disillusionment with Obama. Ahmed doesn’t fairly handle to tie this disillusionment to Seema’s abandonment by her father, and it’s a aid when the novel returns to only the trio of girls.

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