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August Book Club: 'Radiant Fugitives' by Nawaaz Ahmed

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Nawaaz Ahmed; 'Radiant Fugitives' book cover
Nawaaz Ahmed is the author of 'Radiant Fugitives.' (Courtesy of Counterpoint Press)

The Forum Book Club pick for August 2021 is Nawaaz Ahmed’s debut novel “Radiant Fugitives.” Set in San Francisco in and around 2010, it tells the story of Seema, a lesbian and political organizer with doubts about the efficacy of politics even as she works on the campaigns of President Obama, District Attorney Kamala Harris and California’s 2008 proposition on gay marriage. Over the course of the final five days of her pregnancy, she tries to reconnect with her estranged, terminally ill mother who has travelled from India for the birth, and her devout Muslim sister, in from Texas. Narrated by Seema’s newborn son, the novel weaves together three generations’ stories, drawing inspiration from the Quran and the poetry of Wordsworth and Keats.

You can buy the book here.

Readers, join the conversation and tell us:

  • Were you part of the mid- to late-2000s political or queer scenes in San Francisco? How does your experience compare?
  • How did its themes of religion, family, politics and queer identity resonate?
  • Did you relate to any character, scene or image?
  • Do you have a favorite line or passage?


Nawaaz Ahmed, author, "Radiant Fugitives: A Novel"

Anita Felicelli, author, "Chimerica: A Novel," "Love Songs for a Lost Continent"

Sherine Hamdy, professor of anthropology, University of California Irvine; author, “Our Bodies Belong to God,” “Lissa” and a forthcoming graphic novel about a Muslim American girl

Vanessa Hua , columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; author, "Forbidden City" (forthcoming)

Zahir Janmohamed, visiting assistant professor of English, Bowdoin College; Kundiman fiction fellow


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