Unmarriageable : Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

3.77 (9,600 ratings by Goodreads)
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Alys Binat has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Although she knows that many of her students won't finish their education before dropping out to marry, Alys still hopes to inspire them to dream of more than what's expected.
When an invitation arrives for the biggest wedding their town has seen in years, Mrs Binat excitedly prepares her five unmarried daughters to hunt for prospective husbands. On the first night of the festivities, Alys's eldest sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad Bingla. But his friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family.
As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal - and Alys begins to realise that Darsee's manner may hide a very different man to the one she judged at first sight.
An essential guide to marriage, class and sisterhood in modern-day Pakistan
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Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 134 x 216 x 35mm | 514g
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0749024410
  • 9780749024413
  • 512,539

Review quote

`This sumptuous book is so refreshingly relatable to young Asian women today ... A compelling story about marriage, class and sisterhood' Asian Image; `This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms' People; `A witty delight that will leave you wishing for more' New York Journal of Books; `Endearing ... Kamal's story seems to have all the ingredients that make Pride and Prejudice's retelling an exciting, dramatic and fun South Asian adaptation complete with big, fat desi weddings, modern Pakistani women, affluent bachelors and the unrelenting quest for love' Forbes; `As with Austen, whose books could be read as fun and simple romances or acerbic examinations of class and women's choices (and lack thereof), Kamal's Unmarriageable succeeds in being both a deliciously readable romantic comedy and a commentary on class in post-colonial, post-partition Pakistan, where the effects of the British Empire still reverberate ... Both a fun, page-turning romp and a thought-provoking look at the class-obsessed strata of Pakistani society' NPR; `Delightful ... Unmarriageable introduces readers to a rich Muslim culture. It's Pakistan circa 2001, when women's rights were expanding but religious attitudes were becoming more strict. [Kamal] observes family dramas with a satiric eye and treats readers to sparkling descriptions of a dayslong wedding ceremony, with its high-fashion pageantry and higher social stakes' Star Tribune; `Thoroughly charming' The New York Post; `Kamal masterfully transports Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice from Regency England to modern-day Pakistan in this excellent retelling ... [A] funny, sometimes romantic, often thought-provoking glimpse into Pakistani culture, one which adroitly illustrates the double standards women face when navigating sex, love and marriage. This is a must-read for devout Austenites' Publishers Weekly *starred review*; `Kamal's Unmarriageable is a book simmering with life, language, intellect - and delicious Pakistani cuisine. It will leave readers' hearts and souls content and their mouths watering' Katherine Chen, author of Mary B; `A delight from start to finish, Soniah Kamal's retelling of Pride and Prejudice has all the sly social commentary and bright, biting humour of the original, but aimed at thoroughly modern issues. It's also the perfect book for the armchair traveler, offering an insider's view into a fascinating country and culture - including a peek at what the wedding of the year looks like in Pakistan. This one is going directly on my keeper shelf; I loved it' Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Almost Sisters; `[A] charming update to the original ... Kamal's version of the classic novel highlights issues of colonialism, race, and Pakistani identity. Her insights are pointed and smart. Put your feet up and enjoy. It's a delicious book' Kirkus Reviews; `Unmarriageable is a joy to read! It transforms a familiar story into something new and fresh and different, but keeps all of the warmth and intelligence of the original. I loved everything about these characters and spending time in their world' Jasmine Guillory, USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date; `Charming and insightful, Soniah Kamal's Unmarriageable connects the concerns of women across time and cultures' Vanessa Hua, author of A River of Stars; `Soniah Kamal has gifted us a refreshing update of a timeless classic. Unmarriageable raises an eyebrow at a society which views marriage as the ultimate prize for women. Crackling with dialogue, family tensions, humour and rich details of life in contemporary Pakistan, Unmarriageable tells an entirely new story about love, luck and literature' Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows; `Unmarriageable is a joyride featuring all the beloved Austen characters with a Pakistani twist, drawing on universal themes of love, passion, and the healing nature of tea. I read it in one gulp!' Amulya Malladi, bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers and The Mango Season; `Irreverent, witty, and imaginative. Readers will be surprised by the similarities between the customs and manners of 19th century England and those of modern-day Pakistan. Austen herself would have enjoyed Kamal's deft retelling of her novel, while sipping a cup of chai' Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us; `Unmarriageable offers an incisive, loving look at the society it puts under the microscope. Kamal's splendid novel is not only light, bright, and sparkling, it's also sassy, direct, sharp, and funny. Heroine Alysba Binat and her sisters - Jena, Mari, Lady, and Qitty -navigate a shallow world of luxury and privilege that pushes them toward advantageous, empty marriages, rather than happily-ever-afters. Fortunately, some of them have read their Austen' Devoney Looser, 2018 Guggenheim fellow and author of The Making of Jane Austen; `Unmarriageable is a rollicking good ride. The opulent landscape of Pakistan's moneyed (and unmoneyed) social elite is exactly the kind of modern update Pride and Prejudice needs. This is one of those books that are hard to put down' S. J. Sindu; `The dialogue sparkles with sharp humour, which will dazzle readers with counterparts of the original ... Austen devotees will rejoice in this respectful cross-cultural update of a beloved classic' Library Journal *starred review*; `Told with wry wit and colourful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen's beloved novel and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood' Book Browse; `Unmarriageable was such a great story that I forced myself to slow down reading it. I loved the revisions of familiar characters in a new setting. This novel is full of Pakistani flavour, but it's still quite accessible to anyone with a gossipy auntie or a handsome crush' The Fiction Addiction; `Go ahead and make plans to give this to yourself as a belated Christmas gift. You won't regret it' K. S. Watts; `Soniah Kamal's witty reimagining is a thoroughly modern one' Heat
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About Soniah Kamal

Soniah Kamal is an award-winning writer whose debut novel was a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in many publications including the New York Times, The Guardian and Buzzfeed. She was born in Pakistan, grew up in England and Saudi Arabia and currently resides in the US.
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Rating details

9,600 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 22% (2,150)
4 42% (3,995)
3 28% (2,734)
2 6% (564)
1 2% (157)
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