Nawaaz Ahmed’s “Radiant Fugitives”

August 13, 2021

Eric Newman talks with Nawaaz Ahmed about his debut novel, Radiant Fugitives, which loosely centers on Seema, a woman who makes a life for herself as a San Francisco-based campaign worker for progressive politicians after her Muslim family in Chennai, India reject her for being a lesbian. As the book opens, Seema is dying just as she is about to give birth to a son, conceived with a fellow campaign worker to whom Seema was briefly married. Gathered around are Seema’s mother, Nafeesa, and Tahera, her deeply devout and jealous younger sister.

Narrated by Seema’s newborn son, Ishraaq, Radiant Fugitives moves back and forth in time and space, from Chennai to London to the United States, charting the struggles of a family in the throes of rupture and reconciliation. Set against the backdrop of the Obama era, the novel explores what it means to belong, to be free, to love, to understand, and to forgive across countries, cultures, and desires.

Also, Rivka Galchen, author of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, returns to recommend a book that was featured on the LARB Radio Hour just two weeks ago — Katie Kitamura’s Intimacies.