This is a heartfelt post-9/11 coming-of-age tale from the perspective of an 11-year-old boy — a boy with brown skin and a longing for a connection to the land that birthed his family: India. Amid anti-Muslim grumblings, Omar, his father Mohammed, and his aunt Amina try to manage their lives within the newly harsh focus from their peers, law enforcement, the government, and even family. Examining themes of emotional ties, solitude, tragedy, the thirst for self-actualization, family, science, and lives upended, Koya writes a tender love letter to all Muslim Americans who have been denounced and disowned by their own country. Gorgeously done, The Royal Abduls brings that which is carefully hidden out into the light, searching for the truth at all costs. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
I have just begun this debut novel by Portland author Koya and am really enjoying it. Amina moves to DC to further her career and be close to her family in the years following 9/11. There, she develops a relationship with her nephew, who is fascinated by their East Indian heritage and is searching for answers. This is a well-crafted story about second-generation Americans finding their place in the world. Recommended By Jennifer H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Ramiza Shamoun Koya reveals the devastating cost of anti-Muslim sentiment in The Royal Abduls, her debut novel about an Indian-America family. Evolutionary biologist Amina Abdul accepts a post-doc in Washington, DC, choosing her career studying hybrid zones over a faltering West Coast romance. Her brother and sister-in-law welcome her to the city, but their marriage is crumbling, and they soon rely on her to keep their son company. Omar, hungry to understand his cultural roots, fakes an Indian accent, invents a royal past, and peppers his aunt with questions about their cultural heritage. When he brings an ornamental knife to school, his expulsion triggers a downward spiral for his family, even as Amina struggles to find her own place in an America now at war with people who look like her. With The Royal Abduls, Ramiza Koya ignites the canon of post-9/11 literature with a deft portrait of second-generation American identity.
"[An] accomplished debut....Koya writes sharply about what it means to be South Asian in the U.S. after 9/11, and skillfully weaves the family members' conflicts and predicaments. This is a mature, fully realized effort." Publishers Weekly
"In her provocative, intense debut novel, The Royal Abduls, Ramiza Shamoun Koya introduces the extended members of a fractured family four years after the horrors of 9/11....[A] sobering, resonating narrative." Shelf Awareness
"Ramiza Shamoun Koya's The Royal Abduls is filled with wonderfully flawed, yet deeply sympathetic characters who occupy utterly convincing and beautifully drawn narrative and emotional situations. Is independence freedom or isolation? How can we balance our own needs with those of our loved ones? How can we both protect ourselves and connect with others? Koya's novel reminds us that the answers to these questions are, of course, both deeply personal and deeply political, and in answering them, Koya performs the marvelous alchemy of dropping us into a story world that dismantles and then reassembles our sense of who we are." Karen Shepard, author of The Celestials
"After reading Ramiza Shamoun Koya's warm and wise debut novel, you will not soon forget the Abdul family, especially the tenderness between Amina and her young nephew, Omar, as both struggle to find happiness amid family turmoil and hostility towards Muslims in post-9/11 America. Koya imbues each page of The Royal Abduls with lessons of the heart and what it means to save yourself while protecting the ones you love." Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave
"A beautiful and messy family story set in the tumultuous post 9/11 world of Washington, DC, The Royal Abduls digs deep into the hearts of a small boy and his academic auntie as they struggle to define themselves and stay connected to the ones they love."
Joanna Rose, author of A Small Crowd of Strangers
"Koya has crafted a tender-hearted story with a sharp knife edge. She's cut to the heart of the devastating effects of colonialism and white supremacy on multi-generational American immigrant families."
Jenny Forrester, author of Narrow River, Wide Sky
“The Royal Abduls is a novel for our times. It is a novel of struggle and a reminder of the hope that we once felt and that, hopefully, we will feel again soon.” Carol Zoref, author of Barren Island
"The Royal Abduls is a propulsive and absorbing story of the tensions that reside between career and love, personal desires and family expectations. Upping the power of this book, Ramiza Shamoun Koya deftly reveals how these tensions are made more complicated by political, cultural and social forces. Especially unique in this story is the complex and beautifully drawn relationship between the two point of view characters: a childless aunt and her adolescent nephew. We need more stories like this." Jackie Shannon Hollis, author of This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story
About the Author
Ramiza Shamoun Koya has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in publications such as Columbia Review, Lumina, Washington Square Review, and Mutha Magazine. She has been a fellow at both MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center. Her father was born in Fiji, her mother in Texas, and she was born in California. She lives with her daughter and two cats.
Powell's Books on PowellsBooks.Blog
We have the agency to be literary activists, to put our time and dollars into underrepresented voices and projects that don’t distill neatly into categories...