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Five Books By Muslim Authors That You Need To Read In 2019

Now that 2019 is in full swing we’ve had time to consider our loftier new year’s resolutions (fewer carbs? Less coffee? Hot yoga??) and have come to the conclusion that we should boot them out in favour of far more manageable goals.

One of our chosen more-realistic-resolutions is reading more books. And not just any old books, but books that are by talented Muslim authors whose stories will empower and elevate, suspending you just above the ground until you turn the final page. Really great books, basically.

1) 99 Nights in Logar – Jamil Jan Kochai

Credit: jamiljankochai.com.

99 Nights in Logar tells the story of Marwand, a 12-year-old who returns from America to Afghanistan with his family for the summer. While there, the village dog, Budabash, escapes after biting off the tip of Marwand’s finger, spurring our hero on to a 99-day quest to find the dog.

The debut novel from Afghan-American Jamil Jan Kochai constructs a surreal and riveting tale of contemporary Afghanistan that breaks new ground on predictable narratives about conflict and unrest, illuminating the country as a world of magical realism and resilience.

2) It’s Not About The Burqa – Mariam Khan

Whether it’s a headscarf, hijab, niqab or burqa, no other article of clothing has inspired as much discussion (to put it kindly) in the UK in recent memory. It’s Not About The Burqa, an anthology of essays edited by Mariam Khan gives the women who wear them—contributors include Nafisa Bakkar and Yassmin Abdel Magied—a much-needed platform to discuss the subject in their own words.

With the book, Khan, a feminist activist and author, has compiled a vital collection of voices and views; many of whom are usually drowned out by people without the knowledge, tact or sensitivity to opine on the religious garment.

3) The Study Circle – Haroun Khan

On the 17th floor of a south London council estate, a group of Muslim boys are taking part in a study circle. On the street below, an EDL march is looming, a culmination of the tensions the young men up above must navigate on a daily basis.

The Study Circle, by Haroun Khan, deftly weaves race, class, history and religion through a contemporary portrait of London and the UK. Khan, a proud south Londoner himself, has managed to achieve a rare and refreshing thing: a political and cultural novel that ignores the perceptions of the political and cultural elite.

4) A Woman Is No Man – Etaf Rum

Etaf Rum is a Palestinian-American writer and professor from New York. Her novel, A Woman Is No Man, follows three Palestinian-American women in Brooklyn as they attempt to reconcile individual desire with the strict expectations of traditional Arab culture.

A Woman Is No Man delivers a profound, moving tale of duty, secrecy and identity while conveying the reality of being a Muslim woman in modern America.

5) All The Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman

The premise of All The Things We Never Said is bound to unsettle. It follows a trio of girls who form a friendship on a suicide website that matches people and provides them with a date and method of death.

Yet after 16-year-old British Bangladeshi Mehreen gets to know Cara and Olivia, the group decide they no longer want to be on the sinister website. Unfortunately, logging off is not so simple.

This debut YA novel by British author Yasmin Rahman untangles the complex nature of friendship from the points of view of the three girls, for a story that is at once troubling and thrilling.

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