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‘Bravura sex scenes and subversion’ writes the wise and witty Monica Ali

Dogs read too

For readers who haven’t (yet!) read your witty novel, can you tell us about it in one sentence?

Yasmin and Joe are junior doctors, planning their wedding amidst the chaos of meddling parents, infidelities, secrets and lots of sex.

The culture clash between Joe’s and Yasmin’s mothers is hilarious but utterly heart-warming. How did you find that balance?

The funny thing is that Yasmin is dreading a culture clash but it doesn’t actually happen! Joe tries to reassure Yasmin by saying his mum loves her but is disappointed she’s not a bit more Indian, while her parents are ‘authentic enough’ to give his mum an orgasm. Harriet (Joe’s mum) does indeed love Yasmin’s mum when they meet and then Yasmin starts to resent how close they become. I think subverting expectations is quite central to comedy.

Anisah, Yasmin’s mother, cooks the most delicious-sounding food. What’s your go-to meal? Have you ever had a MacDonalds and lied about it?

Depends what mood I’m in, but rice and a mixed-vegetable curry, maybe with a few prawns thrown in, is welcome any day. Since my kids went vegetarian I stopped eating meat, and if I backslide occasionally I feel hugely guilty but I wouldn’t dare lie about it as they have highly-developed inquisitorial skills.

Your novel includes a ground-breaking period sex scene – brava! What made you decide to include it?

Sex is such an important part of this novel, for all sorts of reasons, and that meant forcing myself to tackle an actual sex scene or two. I dreaded writing them, particularly the period sex one, but it’s crucial to Yasmin’s character development, who she is and who she wants to be in this world, so I couldn’t just bottle out of it. When it came down to it, I actually enjoyed writing it!

Finally, can you tell us why you think CWIP is important?

For me it really highlights that you can be serious and funny, it’s not one or the other. Sometimes humour is the best way to explore some of the difficult stuff - politics, identity, issues concerning racism or class or gender. You can do all that in a novel, and CWIP shows just how many funny women writers there are.

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