Good Intentions by Kasim Ali
In Good Intentions, Kasim Ali not only lays bare the sweetness and nerves of first love, but also levels an unflinching gaze on the prejudices and racism within minority communities
Nur and Yasmina are in love and have been together for four years – they met at university, instantly clicked, and now live together in Nottingham while working on their novel and PhD respectively. The only issue is that Nur’s conservative Pakistani Muslim family have no idea Yasmina exists, and that the brilliant, smart, kind woman their son loves is Black.
Opening on New Years Eve, with Nur gathering up the courage to tell his parents about Yasmina, the novel takes a non-linear route through the four years of their relationship before this point and the ways in which Nur’s family react to his secret. In Good Intentions, Kasim Ali not only lays bare the sweetness and nerves of first love, but also levels an unflinching gaze on the prejudices and racism within minority communities. While Nur frets over his family’s reaction to what he perceives to be his failure to live up to their ideal of “a good son”, Yasmina must contend with the fact that her boyfriend hides her from the world, blinded by his own privilege to the intersection of oppression she faces as a Black, Muslim woman.
This is a complex, tender and bittersweet love story that interrogates familial obligation, religion, race, what it means to be “good” – and specifically, what it means to be “good” to each other. Despite Nur’s belief that he’s in an impossible position, the novel is also incredibly hopeful – maybe our immigrant parents aren’t as immovable as they seem, and perhaps the future holds more choices than we believe. Beautifully written, this will appeal to fans of Caleb Azumah Nelson, Candice Carty-Williams, and Sally Rooney.