Book review: Kasim Ali – Good Intentions

Kasim Ali’s debut, Good Intentions, is an exploratory and emotional novel about a young man who has kept a romance hidden from his parents, unintentionally affecting many in his path, as he makes presumptions about the perception of his life decisions. It’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur eventually plucks the courage to tell his parents that he’s seeing someone, four years after they initially began dating. As a young British Pakistani man, Nur has spent years living a hidden life, which ultimately comes with an anticipated but equally unexpected cost.

An insecure college student, Nur is a character we’ve seen time and time again. It’s an emotive if awkward novel that flits throughout time. Ali effectively brings us into Nur’s life, and his relationship with Yasmina, as it develops, moving from libraries and cramped coffee shops to an apartment they share together. Ultimately, it’s his insecurity that leads to the eventual conclusion of the novel, rendering it conceivable, adding depth. Deftly transporting readers across the course of the novel, this novel exposes with genuine authenticity the complexities of immigrant families and racial prejudice. A complex, wry depiction of coming into adulthood, Ali forces us to consider the traps that are laid out for many as they become more acquainted with themselves within their heritage.

Good Intentions is published 3rd March by 4th Estate

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