Last year was a decent year for Muslim authors. We read debuts in the form of collections such as award-winning and best-selling It’s Not About The Burqa and Our Women on The Ground, memoirs such as Zeba Talkhani’s My Past Is A Foreign Country, Alya Mooro’s The Greater Freedom: Life As a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes and Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir; and we haven’t even mentioned fiction, for example The Other Americans by Laila Lalami and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan’s latest poetry collection titled Postcolonial Banter.
But as less than two per cent of authors and illustrators in the UK are people of colour, even less are Muslim women, therefore this is only the beginning of having a curated bookshelf by Muslim authors. A dreamy goal we all need to set for the year ahead.
And as female Muslim voices are not slowing down for anyone, here are some debuts that you need to add to your neverending to-read list.
Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by Hafsa Lodi
The question surrounding modesty and Muslim women is a complex one. Yet Hafsa Lodi, a fashion journalist by trade, probes what modesty looks like for Muslim women in 2020.
Predicted to be worth $373 billion by 2022 according to The Washington Post, the boom of the modest fashion industry is just beginning. The politics around covering up or choosing not to and everything in between is explored in this collection of essays.
The question surrounding modesty and Muslim women is a complex one. Yet Hafsa Lodi, a fashion journalist by trade, questions what modesty looks like for Muslim women in 2020. With the boom of the modest fashion industry and in the height of #metoo, the politics around covering up or choosing not to and everything in between is explored in this collection of essays.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
We all need a young adult novel to break up our reading habits now and then. And what better than a queer Muslim one? Adiba Jaigirdar creates a love story between two competing henna artists. Their hands meet and something else is sparked.
A controversial but necessary young adult read for the representation of young Muslim and LGBTQI+ people, this fiction will be sure to make you fall in love with love again.
Sex and Lies by Leila Slimani
Franco-Morrocan author Leila Slimani does it again in this deep dive (mind the pun) in sexuality and faith in her paperback release of Sex and Lies. She shines a light on a myriad of different experiences towards sex by interviewing fifteen different women across eighteen chapters.
The critical and thorough examination of double standards towards sex in conservative cultures found in the Middle East is the central thread of Sex and Lies. It’s talking to Middle Eastern women about their agency and how it lies within the perimeters surrounding sex.
A Place At The Table by Laura Shovan and Saadia Faruqi
Laura Shovan and Saadia Faruqi face the timeless but timely question on what belonging looks like in this fiction. Based through the lens of sixth graders, Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl take part in a South Asian cooking class where food is used as a bridge to discuss mental health, empathy towards other cultures and what we can learn from each other in this polemic time.
It’s essentially a book on hope, that should be read by everyone.