EXCLUSIVE: Amy Pascal’s Pascal Pictures has acquired Ayesha at Last, a Muslim romantic dramedy novel by Uzma Jalaluddin. Eric Fineman and Isabel Siskin will be the execs shepherding it. The novel, which was published in Canada and will debut in the U.S. next year, is a present day retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a Muslim community in Toronto.
The novel was shopped as interest swelled in Crazy Rich Asians, and it was helped by an appetite to tell a fun story focused on historically underrepresented characters.
The protagonist Ayesha has dreams of being a poet but has set them aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.
Deal was done by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss Daily & Associates on behalf of Ann Collette at Rees Literary Agency.