Library Loot #18: #OwnVoices Fiction by Muslim Authors

I should just deem today as the Day of Book Hauls, given my first post and now this one. It’s turning out to be a bookishly fabulous week thus far, that’s for sure.

Sticking with my theme from earlier, I shall be sharing with you five holds I picked up recently, which are all authored by Muslim writers, making them #OwnVoices Islamic. There’s some historical fiction and contemporaries in this pile, with one of them being an #OwnVoices Queer read and another being #OwnVoices Malaysian! You may have seen one or two of these flutter around my blog before as an anticipated read. I’m proud to announce that rather than leaving them to hang on my TBR, I’m finally going to dive into them, especially during this holy month of Ramadan.

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other Filters is a young adult contemporary novel—and Ahmed’s debut—about an Indian-American Muslim teen named Maya Aziz who feels torn between worlds. The first is her proper, conservative Muslim world where her parents try to marry her off to a good Muslim boy while she attends college close to home (Chicago). The other lies in her dreams of attending NYC and pursuing filmmaking. Yet, before she can get a decent chance at figuring all of this out, her life is turned upside down in the wake of a horrifying terrorist attack. Suddenly, familiar neighbours and friends begin to treat Maya and her family differently, consumed by fear, bigotry, and hatred. In the midst of this travesty, Maya must find her inner fortitude to decide where she truly belongs.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment is Ahmed’s second novel—also a young adult contemporary—that takes place in a terrifying near-future United States where Muslim Americans are registered onto a list and then forced into Internment Camps. Layla Amin struggles to adapt to her life as a prisoner and refuses to allow such an injustice happen. With help from new friends, her boyfriend on the outside, and a surprising alliance, she takes the first step in a journey towards freedom and revolution.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics is an #OwnVoices Iranian-American, #OwnVoices LGBTQIA+ young adult contemporary novel about a girl named Daria. Her and her friends call themselves the Authentics because they are proud of who they are and always try to keep things very real and honest. One day while Daria is working on a school project, she learns startling information about her past, something pushes her into a quest for self-discovery. The more she feels that everyone is keeping secrets from her, the harder it is to recognise who she is amid the lies.

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

The Weight of Our Sky is an #OwnVoices Malaysian, young adult historical fiction novel with strong mental health motifs. Set against the backdrop of the race riots in 1969 Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, we follow a 16-year-old named Melati Ahmad with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) who loves films and The Beatles. Unlike more teens her age, Melati is also under the impression that her body is harbouring a djinn, one that threatens her with nightmares of her mother’s death unless she adheres to elaborate rituals of counting and tapping to satiate him. Nonetheless, there are things that are outside of Melati’s control, such as the intense racial tensions between the Chinese and the Malays, which hits a boiling point on May 13th, causing her mother to get separated by a city engulfed in flames. With a 24-hour curfew in place and all forms of communication in disarray, Melati accepts the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent to overcome the violence that surrounds her, as well the djinn’s voices, and her own prejudices, so that she may rescue the one person who means the world to her.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us is an #OwnVoices Indian-American adult fiction novel about a family that has been brought together for the eldest daughter’s wedding. During this momentous occasion, the youngest of the siblings named Amar reunites with his family after three long years. With this confrontation, the parents must now contend with the choices they made and the betrayals that caused their youngest son to emancipate himself from them. Meanwhile the kids struggle with finding common ground with the culture and traditions instilled into them and learning how to be authentic to their own identities.

From this list, I began reading Love, Hate & Other Filters last night and I love Maya’s voice! She is funny and witty, smart and passionate. Her struggles feel so genuine to me as it was one that I had for many years growing up, and even quite a few years into my adulthood. I’m curios to watch Maya grow and find her way in the intensity that is about to befall her. After that novel, I shall more than likely pick up The Authentics as I’m so eager to read a Queer Muslim book!

For anyone participating in the Ramadan Readathon, all of these books satisfy multiple challenges, so make sure to check them out!

Please, let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books or if there are other books authored by Muslims that you’ve got your eye on. I’d love to hear from you.  🖤

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