I’ve known Soniah for several years and when it comes to writing, rewriting, revising and…well, you get the idea—Soniah’s a master wordsmith, author and storyteller. Released on January 15, 2019, by Ballantine Books, the release took social media by storm and I had the opportunity to hear Soniah talk at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting in January.
For those of you who are not quite sure what the buzz is all about, ‘Unmarrigeable’ is the retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with a twist – the story is reset in today’s Pakistan with the flavors of spice, samosas and sizzling relationships.
The Binat family’s reputation is on the line because a scandalous rumor has destroyed their fortune. An invitation to the biggest wedding, the town has ever seen, looms ahead. With five daughters to marry and settle down (as is the responsibility for many S.Asian parents), the Binats are on a roll to hunt down eligible bachelors and secure their daughters’ futures.
With star-gazing reviews and golden stamps of endorsement from: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, NPR, Booklist, Forbes and more… Soniah’s talk glittered with just as much enthusiasm considering she wrote the first draft in 2-months flat. Yes, 2 months!!
Soniah talked about the issues she faced in the re-telling of a classic because she had to stick to the theme, plotline, ambience and complexities of the source material. She addresses the lives of women and expectations they must live up to today and keeps intact all the fanfare of the original. However, she had to keep in mind status, class consciousness, updating the classic to a modern world era, ensure her story characters were aware Pride and Prejudice existed (because the original was written 200 years ago) and cater to several audiences:
- Austen lovers
- The original novel
- The Pakistani culture
- A ready audience who have little or no knowledge of Pakistan
“When you’re using source material, you do have an inbuilt audience,” Soniah said, “which can be really intimidating.” But, she added, “You get to write the novel you want to read.”
Soniah’s dream, since the age of 16, was to read a Pride and Prejudice which catered to her heart – the heart of Pakistani culture. Mind you, Soniah was born in Pakistan but grew up in England and then Saudi Arabia. She’s also lived in New Mexico, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You might say she’s seen the world. A recipient of countless awards, a creative writing instructor at universities and renowned essayist, I’ll leave the trailblazer of achievements to Soniah’s fabulous website.
So, if you’re not sure what book to crack the year with, try turning the pages of ‘Unmarrigeable’ – I’m sure you’ll applaud her success with the world!