Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2020) Nominees Round Up, March 20 Edition

The Love and Lies of Ruhksana Ali by Sabina Khan
Scholastic Audio
Published Date: January 29, 2019
ISBN: 978-1987156225

This audio version of this debut novel immerses the listener in a domestic crisis as Ruhksana’s immigrant parents spirit her away to Bangladeshi to grapple with her sexual orientation and their own expectations. Meanwhile, Ruhksana tries to keep her relationship with her girlfriend Ariana going long-distance and works to explore her family’s own shadowy history. Narrator Richa Shukla does a deft job in switching between characters among three generations of Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi Americans, punctuating with particular enthusiasm the especially mouth-watering descriptions of South Asian foods.

The narrative gets at all the complexity of modern identity, working through issues of representation and intersectionality as Ruhksana’s Seattle friends judge her culture without understanding what it means to her. Though the production has some minor technical faults, Shukla’s energetic performance carries the story to a positive resolution.

For those who relish solid f2f romance a la The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding, cultural awakening like Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, or the theological exploration of Islam in Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali.

–Wendy Stephens