In Literary Fiction, Is Capital-P Politics Always at Play?

Radiant Runaways
by Nawaz Ahmed

Anyone attempting to understand 21st century America through its literary novels can recognize that neither religion nor politics play a significant role in shaping the lives of its residents. Politics with a lowercase P often works, but almost never with a capital P; And religion, one might say, is largely the patronage of Marilyn Robinson. It was clear that the Trump years would put a new set of demands on the novel, though readers wouldn’t immediately recognize “Radiant Fugitives” from Nawaz Ahmed’s debut film—an Indian American woman volunteering in Kamala Harris’s attorney general campaign in 2010. About – these demands in the form of response.

The story begins in a San Francisco hospital room, where a newborn, Ishraq, is recounting the death of his mother Seema in childbirth. Seema’s ex-husband, Bill, is hanging out with his mother Nafisa; While his sister Tahera is running towards them through the corridors of the hospital. From there the novel goes back to the concept of Ishraq, and explains the arrival of Nafisa and Tahera in California a few days before the birth. We learn that Seema has been separated from her Indian family over the years, ever since she came before them as a lesbian in Chennai. Knowing that neither Bill nor her new boyfriend, Leigh, can be the support they need to have a child, Seema turns to Nafisa, a pregnant woman who has little time to live, and her two daughters. Wants to fix things between The sisters’ differences have only escalated when Tahera, now living in Texas, sought sanctuary in a serious form of Islam.

Sometimes Ishraq’s statement addressed to Nafisa is mostly distracting. There is little to distinguish her voice from a third-person omniscient narrative, and you quickly learn not to pay much attention, for example, as she speaks the range mainly by name and occasionally “my mother”. refers as. For the time being it appears to be a fairly traditional tale of a family confronting old rifts and even old darlings, the boldest of all to give us a deeply religious Muslim character.

That is, until the novel goes even further, until 2003, when the border meets the bill in opposition to the Iraq War. Ishraq’s tone becomes more active, but his intimacy fades away as he follows Border through several political campaigns, culminating in his disillusionment with Obama. Ahmed doesn’t manage to tie this disillusionment with his father’s abandonment of the border, and it’s a relief when the novel returns to just a trio of women.

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