‘Terrorists don’t wear vintage shoes.’ At least not according to Sofia Khan, the heroine of my novel, Sofia Khan is not Obliged. Because she knows, just as well as the next person, that a terrorist would not be wearing a pair of teal, snakeskin, peep-toes. What else, after all, could she have said to the man on the tube, who quite dismissively presumed she spends her time Googling chemical formulas just because she wears a hijab? As a rule of thumb, it’s a pretty basic assumption to make, but given the world’s occurrences I think it’s safe to assume that common sense isn’t that common nowadays.
Sofia’s a plucky, somewhat foul-mouthed, book publicist who’s on her way to an important meeting and has been caught rather off-guard by Mr. Racist. This, as well as having broken off her engagement with her fiancé – who, by the way, wanted her to live with his parents and a hole-in-the-wall, and please, what year do you think this is? – distracts her from paying attention in her meeting (she’s busy figuring out how to doodle a house with a hole-in-the-wall). So distracted in fact that she ends up being asked by her boss to write a Muslim dating book. You know, to expose the underworld of furtive hand-holding and chaperoned dates. Sofia reluctantly agrees and so begins the sequence of events that will unravel a contemporary love story, while also unravelling some home truths.
As a hijabi Muslim I’ve been asked some pretty weird questions in my time. For example: ‘Do you have to wear your hijab in the shower as well?’