British writer Kasim Ali's Good Intentions was one of the most eagerly awaited novels of 2022, published earlier this year in the United Kingdom. Ali is part of that refreshing change where more novels by young men of colour are emerging, openly exploring issues of race, romance and mental health - a welcome departure from how male writers rarely explore their vulnerabilities.

Good Intentions is a very sensitively and well-written novel about vulnerability and victimhood. The parlance is straightforward to showcase the familiar experiences many may have had, such as dealing with different expectations, prejudices held knowingly or unknowingly and family loyalty, to name a few. It reveals how broad racism can be, regardless of colour or creed. This aspect is explored through the lens of an interracial relationship.

The story revolves around 25-year-old Nur, an online journalist and aspiring writer who leaves his hometown initially for studies, and then for work. He is originally from Birmingham and is of Pakistani heritage - a commonality that he shares with the author.

Nur's character is portrayed as pleasant and caring, a people-pleaser who suffers from panic attacks, not least when he thinks about introducing his Sudanese girlfriend Yasmina and her family to his parents. Despite the fact that Nur considers her the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with - and is currently living with her - he is frozen with fear at the mere thought of telling his family about Yasmina.

A movingly written and honest novel about how filial ties and embedded prejudice can jeopardise an interracial relationship

Through Nur and Yasmina's relationship, Ali sheds light on the anti-Blackness rampant in the UK's South Asian community that not many care to discuss or admit. Generally, with regards to their children's life partners of a different ethnicity, Muslim South Asian parents tend to place emphasis on religion. However, the colour of the skin is just as important a criteria.

Good Intentions shows how Nur's almost obsessive dread of being seen with Yasmina in his hometown stems from the fact that his mother had expressed disgust when she once saw her son in the company of a black girl at school. His anxiety about disclosing his relationship with a dark-skinned Sudanese girl reveals the hypocrisy existing within the South Asian Muslim community.

The story starts at the end, which may lead readers into thinking they know the ending. Yet the clever...

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