The Royal Abduls

Finalist, Foreword INDIES, multicultural category

Finalist, Big Other Fiction Award

Ramiza Shamoun Koya reveals the devastating cost of anti-Muslim sentiment in The Royal Abduls, her debut novel about an Indian-America family. Evolutionary biologist Amina Abdul accepts a post-doc in Washington, DC, choosing her career studying hybrid zones over a faltering West Coast romance. Her brother and sister-in-law welcome her to the city, but their marriage is crumbling, and they soon rely on her to keep their son company. Omar, hungry to understand his cultural roots, fakes an Indian accent, invents a royal past, and peppers his aunt with questions about their cultural heritage. When he brings an ornamental knife to school, his expulsion triggers a downward spiral for his family, even as Amina struggles to find her own place in an America now at war with people who look like her. With The Royal Abduls, Koya ignites the canon of post-9/11 literature with a deft portrait of second-generation American identity.


Ramiza Shamoun Koya
Forest Avenue Press
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Trade Paper: 6 x 9
Cover price: $16.95
ISBN TP:  9781942436423
Distribution: Publishers Group West
304 pages


Ramiza Shamoun Koya

Ramiza Shamoun Koya has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in publications such as Columbia Review, Lumina, Washington Square Review, and Mutha Magazine. She has been a fellow at both MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center. Her father was born in Fiji, her mother in Texas, and she was born in California. She lives with her daughter and two cats.


“Ramiza Shamoun Koya’s The Royal Abduls is filled with wonderfully flawed, yet deeply sympathetic characters who occupy utterly convincing and beautifully drawn narrative and emotional situations. Is independence freedom or isolation? How can we balance our own needs with those of our loved ones? How can we both protect ourselves and connect with others? Koya’s novel reminds us that the answers to these questions are, of course, both deeply personal and deeply political, and in answering them, Koya performs the marvelous alchemy of dropping us into a story world that dismantles and then reassembles our sense of who we are.”

—Karen Shepard, author of The Celestials

“The Royal Abduls is a novel for our times. It is a novel of struggle and a reminder of the hope that we once felt and that, hopefully, we will feel again soon.” 

—Carol Zoref, author of Barren Island

“Koya has crafted a tender-hearted story with a sharp knife edge. She’s cut to the heart of the devastating effects of colonialism and white supremacy on multi-generational American immigrant families.” 

—Jenny Forrester, author of Narrow River, Wide Sky

“After reading Ramiza Shamoun Koya’s warm and wise debut novel, you will not soon forget the Abdul family, especially the tenderness between Amina and her young nephew, Omar, as both struggle to find happiness amid family turmoil and hostility towards Muslims in post-9/11 America. Koya imbues each page of The Royal Abduls with lessons of the heart and what it means to save yourself while protecting the ones you love.”

—Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

“A beautiful and messy family story set in the tumultuous post 9/11 world of Washington, DC, The Royal Abduls digs deep into the hearts of a small boy and his academic auntie as they struggle to define themselves and stay connected to the ones they love. It’s a story of an immigrant experience of our times, full of hope and tender human wisdom.”

—Joanna Rose, author of A Small Crowd of Strangers

“The Royal Abduls is a propulsive and absorbing story of the tensions that reside between career and love, personal desires and family expectations. Upping the power of this book, Ramiza Shamoun Koya deftly reveals how these tensions are made more complicated by political, cultural and social forces. Especially unique in this story is the complex and beautifully drawn relationship between the two point of view characters: a childless aunt and her adolescent nephew. We need more stories like this.”

—Jackie Shannon Hollis, author of This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story


30 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020, Powell’s buyers

21 Great Books From Small Presses To Read Now: Buzzfeed News, by Wendy Fox

Reviews for Ramiza, NW Book Lovers

PNBA Rallies for Ill Debut Author: Publishers Weekly

Radio interview: KBOO with Joanna Rose

“As a Small, Brown Woman with an Arabic Name: India Currents, interviewed by Devi S. Laskar

Review: Publishers Weekly

Review: Willamette Week

Driving Home: The Big Smoke, essay by Ramiza

Book Dragon: Smithsonian book blog

Review: Helen’s Book Blog

Review: Samia Abbasi

Review: Shelf Awareness

Interview: PEN Pod

Review: Cleaver Magazine, reviewed by Beth Kephart

Video: Caroline Leavitt’s site by Devi Laskar

Ramadan Readathon

Corvallis Advocate

Review: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, crosspost from

Video Interview: Vanport Mosaic Festival, with Sankar Raman of The Immigrant Story

Staff pick, Powell’s Books

That Little Bit of Magic: The Rumpus, interview with Alex Behr

Portland Author, Educator Dies of Cancer, The Oregonian

Oregon Arts Watch

Review: Cristi’s Reviews

Recommended by Austin Public Library

Multnomah County Public Library Staff Pick

Annie Bloom’s Books Staff Pick

Review: Atticus Review

American Library Association Diverse Books Listing (virtual conference)

Summer Reads catalog, California, Pacific Northwest, and Mountains & Plains booksellers

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