In Review

Good Intentions by Kasim Ali: ‘what a tonic’

Ali’s ‘eagerly awaited’ debut is a ‘well-drawn’ exploration of romance, youth and race

This “eagerly awaited” debut is being hailed as “part of a wave of novels by young men of colour exploring race, romance and mental health problems”, said Johanna Thomas-Corr in The Sunday Times.

Nur, a 25-year-old online journalist from Birmingham who regularly suffers panic attacks, has been with Yasmina for four years. But he has yet to tell his Pakistani parents about the relationship: Yasmina’s family is Sudanese, and Nur has never got over his “mother’s disgust when she saw him hanging out with a black girl at school”.

On the surface a “poignant romance” about the barriers standing in the way of two young lovers, Good Intentions gradually reveals itself to be a deeper novel – about how an obsession with vulnerability can “make you forget your responsibility to others”.

Ali’s characters are “well-drawn”, and “what a tonic” to have a book about race in Britain set outside the capital, said Siobhan Murphy in The Times. Unfortunately, though, the unnecessarily complex structure necessitates a lot of darting “between points on the timeline” – and this, alas makes the novel rather “confusing”.

4th Estate 352pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99

Good Intentions book cover
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

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