The Diverse Reads of 2020 is a series of blog posts organised by Taiwo (go follow her blog), in which book bloggers of different marginalisations make lists of books coming this year based on their marginalisations.
Today in no particular order, I’ll be bringing you 20+ books by Muslim authors across different age groups, genres and forms of literature, releasing this year.
1. We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal.
Zafira is the Hunter, braving the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those who defy his autocratic father, the sultan. She must hide her identity. He mustn’t display compassion. But when both embark on a quest to uncover a lost magic artifact, Zafira and Nasir encounter an ancient evil long thought destroyed—and discover that the prize they seek may be even more dangerous than any of their enemies. In We Free the Stars, Zafira and Nasir must conquer the darkness around—and inside of—them.
Remember when I said in no particular order, I lied. We Free The Stars is one of my anticipated books of the 2020, and I have definitely spent hours staring at the ceiling and wondering why I don’t have it in my hands. I think its no secret how much I love its prequel, We Hunt The Flame (twitter is a witness of my shame). I’m really excited about We Free The Stars and can’t wait for its release.
2. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized
Another book for which I lied about the lack of order. I know about coherent words and constructiveness but… Muslim. Gays. aaahhhhh
I’m so excited for Henna Wars (i might just sign my soul off somewhere). I’m so so excited for this book to be out into the world. I’m so hungry for queer Muslim rep, especially when the characters are POC. I can’t wait to love this book.
3. Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi
The explosive finale to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shatter Me series.
Which is the truth and which is the lie?
Now that Ella knows who Juliette is and what she was created for, things have only become more complicated. As she struggles to understand the past that haunts her and looks to a future more uncertain than ever, the lines between right and wrong—between Ella and Juliette—blur. And with old enemies looming, her destiny may not be her own to control.
The day of reckoning for the Reestablishment is coming. But she may not get to choose what side she fights on.
I lied again. I started the Shatter Me series last year, and while I’m still on the fourth book, I’m so excited for more Warnerette and Kenji, especially Kenji.
4. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed.
Told in alternating narratives that bridge centuries, the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed traces the lives of two young women fighting to write their own stories and escape the pressure of familial burdens and cultural expectations in worlds too long defined by men.
It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her professor parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.
Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.
Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.
At this stage, discard whatever I said about the order. I’m super excited about this book. Young Muslim women fighting societal and familial expectation.
5. More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood.
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a sweetly funny YA rom-com debut about falling in love, familial expectations, and being a Renaissance Man.
Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.
When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man–a school-wide academic championship–it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.
First, aaaahhhhh!!! A cute rom-com with Desi Muslim kids, yes! And one that is shown from the perspective of a male MC, yes please.
6. Thorn by Intisar Khanani
A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
Includes The Bone Knife, a bonus short story set in the world of Thorn.
I love fairy tale retellings, and even if I don’t know the original tale of goose girl, I’m excited for Thorn.
7. No True Believers by Rabiah York Lumbard
Fans of the riveting mystery in Courtney Summers’s Sadie and the themes of race and religion in Samira Ahmed’s Internment will be captivated by this exploration of the intersection of Islamaphobia and white supremacy as an American Muslim teen is forced to confront hatred and hidden danger when she is framed for a terrorist act she did not commit.
Salma Bakkioui has always loved living in her suburban cul-de-sac, with her best friend Mariam next door, and her boyfriend Amir nearby. Then things start to change. Friends start to distance themselves. Mariam’s family moves when her father’s patients no longer want a Muslim chiropractor. Even trusted teachers look the other way when hostile students threaten Salma at school.
After a terrorist bombing nearby, Islamaphobia tightens its grip around Salma and her family. Shockingly, she and Amir find themselves with few allies as they come under suspicion for the bombing. As Salma starts to investigate who is framing them, she uncovers a deadly secret conspiracy with suspicious ties to her new neighbors–but no one believes her. Salma must use her coding talent, wits, and faith to expose the truth and protect the only home she’s ever known–before it’s too late.
I’m so so excited about No True Believers. In truth, I didn’t know about this book until about five days ago when I was searching for books, but I honestly can’t wait for it to be out. NTB has Muslim teens dating, programming geeks and themes on islamophobia and white supremacy; which are literally all the things I need.
8. Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.
But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.
From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.
First, queer desi Muslim rep!!! A book with a bisexual Muslim MC fighting islamophobia, racism and white supremacy? Yes, please.
And also the cover… I am very pleased.
9. This is All Your Fault by Amina Mae Safi
Set over the course of one day, this smart and voice-driven YA novel follows three young women determined to save their indie bookstore.
Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.
Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.
Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.
When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with.
And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.
Book lovers trying to save an indie bookstore they love? Aye!
Add it on Goodreads | Preorder on Amazon
10. Yes, No, Maybe So by Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertali
New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.
I think this book sounds positively adorable and you should read it!
[Cover yet to be revealed]
11. Court of Lions (Mirage #2) by Somaiya Daud.
Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?
After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl
forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into
isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had
cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion
and has cornered her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, she
will be revealed to everyone in the court.
Amani desperately wants to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her
people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: Will she continue
to aid them and put her family—and herself—in mortal danger? And can she
remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?
Swapping of identities and falling in love with your double fiance? Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!
[Cover yet to be revealed]
12. Untitled (Light the Abyss #2) by London Shah
No information available yet
13. Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Illustrated by Luisa Uribe.
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
I don’t read Kidlit, but Your Name Is a Song is a book I’d love to read. A lot of people with non western names have had odd relationships with their names, and are growing love them or in the process of loving their names. Your Name Is a Song sounds like a really amazing and I’m anticipating its release.
Add it on Goodreads | Preorder on Amazon
14. Unexpected Super Spy: Book 2 (Planet Omar) by Zanib Mian, and Illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik
Welcome back to Planet Omar! The second book in Zanib Mian’s laugh-out-loud series, with amazing cartoon-style illustrations from Nasaya Mafaridik. Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid.
Omar and his friends have been saving up their pocket money for ages so they can have the world’s most epic Nerf Blaster battle. But when Omar discovers that his mosque is in trouble, they decide to donate their pennies to help save it.
Then they try to raise some more money by:
Doing some chores (boorrring)
Selling some home-made cookies (deeelicious)
Holding a talent contest (YESSSSSSS)
Everything goes PERFECTLY until the money mysteriously goes missing. Can they work out who has taken it in time to stop the mosque closing down?
And what exactly is Omar’s sister Maryam hiding in her room…?
Have you read the first book in the series, Accidental Trouble Magnet ? Love Reading 4 Kids called it ‘ irresistible reading’!
This book looks absolutely adorable. The cover and art style, and Muslim kids saving to help their local mosque…be right back, I need to cry my eyes out.
15. The Girl and The Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
No information available yet
I don’t need to know what its about, I’m already excited for its release.
16. A Place At The Table by Laura Shovan and Saadia Faruqi
A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth-graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.
Sixth-graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is huge and completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners … but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?
A Place At The Table sounds absolutely adorable and I love how it about friendship and fitting in. It also has depression rep, although secondary, which is an extra win for me.
17. The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil
Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts. That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. The next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a quilt (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.
The Arabic Quilt looks so sweet and heartwarming, and is just about the kind of book I’d recommend to anyone who will listen to me talk.
[Cover to be revealed]
18. A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi
Set in Karachi, the middle grade contemporary novel follows American-born Mimi as she searches for her absent father, and Pakistani-born Sakina, who balances her dreams against her family’s needs, over the course of a summer.
19. Farah Rocks Fifth Grade (Farah Rocks #1)
Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?
Farah Rocks Fifth Grade sounds like a wonderful book about the bond between siblings and the sacrifices of an older sibling. I might not read MG or Kidlit, but like the other books of these age categories, Farah Rocks makes me want to try it out this year.
20. Empire of Gold (The Daevabad trilogy #3) by S.A Chakraborty
The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.
Daevabad has fallen.
After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.
But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.
The last installation of the Daevabad trilogy is one the most anticipated books of 2020 I know. I might not have exactly started the trilogy (I’m actually on page 5, but still…), its one of the books by friends and faves are anticipating and I’m also excited for it.
Add it on Goodreads | Preorder links
21. That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy
Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.
So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for this book. I follow Huda on twitter and her tweets and comics are so relatable and funny, and have you seen the cute previews of the books? They’re everything!
22. Thirty Names Of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
The author of the “vivid and urgent…important and timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut The Map of Salt and Stars returns with this remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts.
Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria.
One night, he enters the abandoned community house and finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting the birds of North America. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that both his mother and Laila Z encountered the same rare bird before their deaths. In fact, Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s—and his grandmother’s—in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. Realizing that he isn’t and has never been alone, he has the courage to officially claim a new name: Nadir, an Arabic name meaning rare.
As unprecedented numbers of birds are mysteriously drawn to the New York City skies, Nadir enlists the help of his family and friends to unravel what happened to Laila Z and the rare bird his mother died trying to save. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.
Featuring Zeyn Joukhadar’s signature “magical and heart-wrenching” (The Christian Science Monitor) storytelling, The Thirty Names of Night is a timely exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are.
The Thirty Names of Night is a book I really, really want to read. I can’t really name ten books with trans Muslim characters from the top of my head, but be fair my reading of books by marginalised authors or with marginalised characters isn’t exactly impressive, so I’m extremely excited about this story following a Muslim trans boy and with a cast of queer people of colour.
23. The Beauty Of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut.
A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter—radicalized by the online alt-right—attacks the school.
As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.
I’m so ready for this book about bigotry, loss, family, identity, community and the joy that could be found in faith.
24. The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr
Award-winning Arab Australian poet Omar Sakr presents a pulsating collection of poetry that interrogates the bonds and borders of family, faith, queerness, and nationality.
Visceral and energetic, Sakr’s poetry confronts the complicated notion of “belonging” when one’s family, culture, and country are at odds with one’s personal identity. Braiding together sexuality and divinity, conflict and redemption, The Lost Arabs is a fierce, urgent collection from a distinct new voice.
I don’t exactly read poetry, but this poetry about the paradox of belonging I’ll love to.
25. To All The Yellow Flowers
No information available yet
26. Sincerely Yours, F.S Yousaf
Searching for a profound way to propose to his love, F.S. Yousaf reread the letters she had written him. In them he found his proposal, as well as inspiration to write his own prose and poetry. From this inspiration, Sincerely was born. It carries messages of positivity, hope, and most of all, true love.
Like I said, I don’t read poetry but book sounds so positively charming I’m tempted to.
27. Once Upon An Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Seeing the names of all the authors involved in this anthology makes me so excited.
28. Far from Mecca: Globalizing the Muslim Carribean by Aliyah Khan
Far from Mecca: Globalizing the Muslim Caribbean is the first academic work on Muslims in the English-speaking Caribbean. Khan focuses on the fiction, poetry and music of Islam in Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica, combining archival research, ethnography, and literary analysis to argue for a historical continuity of Afro- and Indo-Muslim presence and cultural production in the Caribbean: from Arabic-language autobiographical and religious texts written by enslaved Sufi West Africans in nineteenth century Jamaica, to early twentieth century fictions of post-indenture South Asian Muslim indigeneity and El Dorado, to the 1990 Jamaat al-Muslimeen attempted government coup in Trinidad and its calypso music, to judicial cases of contemporary interaction between Caribbean Muslims and global terrorism. Khan argues that the Caribbean Muslim subject, the “fullaman,” a performative identity that relies on gendering and racializing Islam, troubles discourses of creolization that are fundamental to postcolonial nationalisms in the Caribbean.
What books on this list are looking forward to this year? And if there’s a book by a Muslim author you’re anticipating that isn’t on this list, what is it?