Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Hana Khan Carries On

By Uzma Jalaluddin

358 pages

Published by Corvus (2021)

After finishing with the dark and emotionally exhausting Shadows On The Moon, I felt the need to switch to a more hearty read – and my best bet would be a rom-com. Or so I thought Hana Khan Carries On to be.

Well, this novel IS a rom-com, though the comic part was not that LMAO-level: I don’t laugh too much throughout my reading. I believe the author had been careful to avoid putting lame jokes just because. But rather, the writer had concocted a story that could actually make its readers pause and think (with some sprinkles of humour here and there).

Hanaan “Hana” Khan was a 24-year-old Muslim girl living in Toronto, Canada. Her parents had been immigrants from India, but she was born in Canada. Although Hana practiced Islam and also some Indian traditions, she was a Canadian at heart.

Hana’s mother operated an Indian cuisine restaurant – the Three Sisters Biryani Poutine – in the heart of their multicultural neighbourhood nicknamed the Golden Crescent. Her father used to be an accountant, but in the past two years had been crippled following a freak accident. Ever since, the Khans had been depending more on the income from the restaurant to make their living.

However, more recently, Three Sisters – which had been operating successfully for the past 15 years – had gone into a slump. The restaurant had not been making money the way it used to be, and the family had nothing else to fall back on.

Hana tried to keep calm over the Three Sister’s dire situation – until a flashy new restaurant, Wholistic Burgers and Grill, opened in the neighbourhood and seemed to attract all the attention (and money). The owner of Wholistic Burgers was 27-year-old Aydin Shah, the son of a tycoon who hailed from Vancouver.

Aydin’s father Junaid was a hard man who had no qualms about playing dirty. He had agreed to give monetary support for his son’s business on two conditions: first, Aydin had to marry Zulfa, a girl of his father’s choosing. And secondly, Aydin had to prove himself able to put an established competitor in the neighbourhood out of business within six months. As he had chosen the Golden Crescent area for his restaurant operations, it became obvious that Aydin had to ensure Three Sisters went out of business soon.


However, Aydin was so unlike his father. Displeased with his father’s control on his life, Aydin tried to find some way to get around it. In the case of Zulfa, Aydin was quite lucky as she was also reluctant to marry him – she already had a boyfriend after all. So Zulfa and Aydin had conspired to go through a faux engagement before splitting up later.

Meanwhile, on Junaid’s second condition – putting Three Sisters out of business – Aydin had a much harder time handling it. As he got to know Hana and her family – and understood their difficulties – he knew he didn’t want to put them out of business. To complicate matters further, Aydin was helplessly attracted towards Hana.

It was a love-hate relationship between Hana and Aydin. Initially, Hana had resorted to dirty tactics by (anonymously) slandering Wholistic Burgers on Facebook and Instagram. She resented him for competing with Three Sisters. During a very heated argument with Aydin, Hana had called him out for not being brave enough to stand against his father.

But at times, Hana also felt the pull of attraction towards Aydin. Aydin had always treated her kindly, and he was bold enough to admit his feelings for her. And Hana eventually realized the fact that Three Sisters was already in a dire state long before Wholistic Burgers opened. It had not been the rival restaurant’s fault that the business at Three Sisters slowed down.

As for Aydin, without a doubt he did not want to sabotage Hana’s family business. In the end, he decided to cash out his own savings to return his father’s money. Without Junaid’s money, Aydin would be free from his father’s orders – and Aydin was determined to sacrifice money for the sake of his freedom.

Meanwhile on the Khans’ side, Hana’s cousin Rashid, who had just arrived from India, had offered to buy Three Sisters and revamp the whole restaurant to match Wholistic Burgers and compete fairly. Hana’s mother had eventually decided to take a break and visit families in India. She was, after all, tired from 15 years of operating the business non-stop.

With Rashid buying over the business at a fair price, the Khans had plenty to live with. Hana was just on the path towards a bright career in radio broadcasting, and she was finally able to move on from the memory of Three Sisters Biryani Poutine. Hana and Aydin finally decided to reconcile, and they got married not long after.

Hana Khan Carries On is, overall, not solely focused on Hana’s journey of finding the love of her life. If that was so, then this book will be one simple and straightforward story. No. This novel tells the story of the everyday lives of the Muslim immigrants of Toronto, as well as the society surrounding them - and this surely added the spice to make Hana Khan Carries On all the richer (like the flavours of a biryani... yums! 😋)

The stories of Hana’s immediate family members, Hana’s aunt Kawkab who visited from India, Hana’s best friends Yusuf and Lily, Hana’s internship experience and her friendship with a Jewish radio host called Big J – all added to the colours of this novel. The events that happened to the people around her had helped in Hana’s journey to finding her self and determining what she really wanted in life.

The author was also being fearless in highlighting the hatred that the Muslim community had to endure due to lack of compassion, understanding and most importantly – the lack of accurate information. Kudos to Uzma Jalaluddin for boldly bringing up such a taboo issue which many people had been ignorant about!


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