MVP’s Most Anticipated Books (part two)

Here is a list of some of our most anticipated books by Muslim creatives coming out later this year. Get your bank cards/Apple Pay/PayPal/piggy banks ready, people.

These are books publishing in the second half of the year – for books that published in the first half of the year, check out our part one post!


Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

A magical adventure rooted in Muslim culture and tradition, Nura and the Immortal Palace follows a young girl’s journey from modern-day Pakistan into the world of the jinn.

Nura has worked all her life in the mica mines, earning just enough to keep her family afloat – and enjoy the odd delicious gulab jamun from the market. Some day she’s going to find the Demon’s Tongue, a legendary treasure buried deep in the mines, and her family will never have to worry about money again.

But when a terrible accident buries her best friend below ground, Nura goes in search of him and passes over into the magical and terrible world of the jinn. Across a pink sea and under a purple sky, she finds her way to a palace, where great riches and a whole new life are on offer.

But it’s not long before Nura discovers this world to be as unfair as the real one, and that trickster jinns will always live up to their reputation…

Walker Books, 7th July. Grab a copy here.


Why is Nobody Laughing? by Yasmin Rahman

‘A warm, sensitive and hopeful portrayal of a young person struggling with their mental health and family dynamics … it has depth and great heart as well as charming characters that you will grow to love.’ Ciara Smyth, author of NOT MY PROBLEM

Will the real Ibrahim Malik please stand up?

Ibrahim and Dexter have been best friends forever. While Dexter is always cool and confident, Ibrahim…well, Ibrahim’s dealing with a lot. Hiding his passion for comedy from his family, dealing with the pressure of being the oldest child in an immigrant family, and now he’s started having episodes he soon realises are panic attacks.

When Ibrahim has a panic attack on stage at a local stand-up competition, he runs off to a deserted room. There he finds Sura.

Sura is kind and helps him come to terms with his anxiety. He can open up to her in a way he’s never been able to with Dexter. But there’s also something strange about her – how much she knows about Ibrahim, and how she seems to disappear in an instant.

Will Ibrahim crumble under the pressure, or will Sura’s words be enough to help him? And what will happen when he no longer has her help?

A powerful contemporary novel tackling teenage mental health in boys.
Perfect for fans of John Green, Alice Oseman and Holly Bourne.

Hot Key Books, 7th July. Grab a copy here.


Finding Mr Perfectly Fine by Tasneem Abdur-Rashid

‘If there’s one book you need to read this summer it’s Finding Mr Perfectly Fine Yousra Imran

Last week I turned 29. Along with the usual homemade Victoria sponge, helium balloon and Selfridges gift vouchers, my Mum’s birthday present to me was the threat that if I’m not engaged by my 30th birthday, she’s sending me off to the Motherland to find a fresh-from-the-Desh husband

When Zara’s Mum puts together the most archaic of arranged marriage resources (not exactly the romcom-worthy love story she had envisioned for herself), she is soon exhausted by her family’s failed attempts to set her up with every vaguely suitable Abdul, Ahmed and Farook that they can find. Zara decides to take matters into her own hands. How hard can it be to find a husband at twenty-nine?

With just a year to go, time is of the essence, so Zara joins a dating app and signs up for speed dating.
She meets Hamza, a kind British Egyptian who shares her values and would make a good husband. Zara knows that not all marriages are based on love (or lust) at first sight but struggles with the lack of spark. Particularly when she can’t stop thinking of someone else . . .

As her next birthday looms, and family pressure intensifies, Zara knows she must make a decision, but will she make the right one?

Zaffre, 7th July. Grab a copy here.

The Movement by Ayisha Malik

‘Original, clever, insightful and packs a hell of a feminist punch. I loved it’ Joanne Harris

‘A revelation and a revolution’ Kasim Ali

With words come power. But do you speak out or shut up? 

Everywhere Sara Javed goes – online or outside – everyone is shouting about something. Couldn’t they all just shut up? One day she takes her own advice.

At first people don’t understand her silence and are politely confused at best. But the last thing Sara could anticipate is becoming the figurehead of a global movement that splits society in two.

The Silent Movement sparks outrage in its opposers. Global structures start to shift. And the lives of those closest to Sara – as well as strangers inspired by her act – begin to unravel.

It’s time for the world to reconsider what it means to have a voice. 

A sharply observed novel, charged with compassion and dark wit, that will spark important conversations about how we live, relate and communicate now.

Headline (Hachette), 21st July. Grab a copy here.


Planet Omar: Ultimate Rocket Blast by Zanib Mian

Welcome back to Planet Omar! The fifth book in Zanib Mian’s laugh-out-loud series, with amazing cartoon-style illustrations. Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid.

Omar and his friends are taking part in a national rocket building competition. With a little help from Omar’s scientist mum and dad and some fart power too, they come up with a rocket that’s ready to blast off.

But when someone starts sabotaging the rockets, the boys find themselves on a new mission to reveal the culprit…

*Zanib Mian is a World Book Day author for 2021 with her Planet Omar title, Operation Kind.*

Hachette Children’s Group, 21st July. Grab a copy here.


That’s Not My Name by Anoosha Syed

An uplifting picture book about loving your name, finding your voice and standing up for yourself.

Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play and make new friends. But when her classmates keep mispronouncing her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one.

When Mama helps Mirha see just how special her name is, she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly. 

Featuring beautiful, vibrant illustrations and with an empowering message at its core, this heartwarming picture book from author-illustrator Anoosha Syed reminds us all just how important our names are!

Ladybird, 28th July. Grab a copy here.


This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi (paperback edition)

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people―New York Timesbestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first novel in this epic, romantic fantasy series inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom – and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author, Tahereh Mafi.

‘An original fantasy saga threaded through with Persian myths written by a queen of the genre. A* grade world-building’ The Times Best YA Books for Summer 2022

‘Forbidden love and Persian mythology are at the center of this new trilogy series, and it might be Mafi’s best work yet.’ Cosmopolitan, Best YA Books of 2022

‘In a tale as exquisitely crafted as one of Alizeh’s own garments, Mafi weaves a spell of destiny and danger, forbidden love and courtly intrigue, magic and revolution.’ Cassandra Clare, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Last Hours

‘This story is so magical and transportive that I fully expected the book would know the moment I’d finished – within hours, no less – and promptly unravel into a pile of jewels and silks in my hands. Mafi’s diamond-bright lyrical voice weaves a tale that is gilded in magic, laced with subterfuge, adorned with the brocade of a tortuous romance, and richly embroidered with Persian mythology. I cannot wait for more.’ Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves

Farshore, 4th August. Grab a copy here.


The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid

From the internationally bestselling author of Exit West, a story of love, loss, and rediscovery in a time of unsettling change

One morning, Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark, his reflection a stranger to him. At first he tells only Oona, an old friend, newly a lover. Soon, reports of similar occurrences surface across the land. 

Some see in the transformations the long-dreaded overturning of an established order, to be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss wars with profound love. 

As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance to see one another, face to face, anew.

‘Gorgeously crafted . . . The Last White Man concludes on a note of hope, a door jarred open just enough to let transcendence pour through’ O, the Oprah Magazine 

‘The electric premise, borrowed from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, looks set to update a classic to make it urgently relevant’ Evening Standard

‘A hypnotic race fable . . . In the hands of such a deft and humane writer as Hamid, a bizarre construct is moved far beyond any mere ‘what if” Guardian

Penguin, 11th August. Grab a copy here.


Meet Me in Mumbai by Sabina Khan

A novel in two acts – told eighteen years apart – gives voice to both mother (Ayesha) and daughter (Mira) after an unplanned teen pregnancy led Ayesha to place Mira up for adoption.

Coming to the US to study, Ayesha is swept up in a whirlwind romance with Suresh – an Indian boy who reminds her of home. Mere months away from starting university, she falls pregnant and finds herself alone. She makes the difficult decision to hide her pregnancy and put her daughter up for adoption, before returning to India.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Mira Fuller-Jensen has had a comfortable childhood but has never felt quite like she fit in their majority white community. All she knows is that her mums adopted her when she was born and that her biological mother was a student who went back to India. When she comes across letters addressed to her from her birth mother, she sees a way to finally capture that feeling of belonging.

Her mother writes that if Mira can forgive her for having to give her up, she should find a way to travel to India for her eighteenth birthday and meet her. Mira knows she’ll always regret it if she doesn’t go. But is she actually ready for what she will learn?

Scholastic, 1st September. Grab a copy here.


As Long As The Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

Burning with the fires of hope and possibility, AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW will sweep you up and never let you go.

Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She was even supposed to be meeting a boy to talk about marriage. 

Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors. She knows that she should be thinking about leaving, but who will help the people of her beloved country if she doesn’t? With her heart so conflicted, her mind has conjured a vision to spur her to action. His name is Khawf, and he haunts her nights with hallucinations of everything she has lost.

But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, when she crosses paths with Kenan, the boy she was supposed to meet on that fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all. Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are-not a war, but a revolution-and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria’s freedom.

Bloomsbury, 15th September. Grab a copy here.


The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty

Bestselling author Shannon Chakraborty expands the acclaimed, Hugo-nominated Daevabad Trilogy with this magical compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of the series.

Told from the perspective of characters beloved and hated, and even those never heard from until now, these tales of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder.

Explore a kingdom hidden from human eyes. A place where djinn live and thrive, fight and love. A realm where princes question their rule, and powerful demons can help you…or destroy you.

From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.

HarperCollins, 13th October. Grab a copy here.


Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan

From critically acclaimed author Ausma Zehanat Khan, Blackwater Falls is the first in a timely and powerful crime series, introducing Detective Inaya Rahman.

‘A gripping and compulsive mystery, but much more than that: an exploration of faith, prejudice and fear of the unknown.’ Ann Cleeves, New York Times bestselling author of the Vera, Shetland and Two Rivers series

Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee–the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader–is positioned deliberately in a mosque.

Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are recruited to solve Razan’s murder, and quickly uncover a link to other missing and murdered girls. But as Inaya gets closer to the truth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation. Inaya may be drawn to him, but she is wary of his motives: he may be covering up the crimes of their boss, whose connections in Blackwater run deep.

Inaya turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help in finding the truth. The three have bonded through their experiences as members of vulnerable groups and now they must work together to expose the conspiracy behind the murders before another girl disappears.

Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight.

Macmillan, 1st November. Grab a copy here.


Dear Black Child by Rahma Rodaah

In the spirit of I Am Enough, this is a moving and lyrical tribute to and affirmation of Black children around the world—by an exciting new author and illustrator team.

Dear Black Child, 

We are here to remind you of your glory…

An inspiring love letter to Black children from all cultures, this book is a celebration of their beauty, joy, and resilience.

Dear Black Child is a story of self-acceptance, love, and empowerment for Black immigrant children and families of the diaspora around the world and features joyful and vibrant illustrations.

HarperCollins, 10th November. Grab a copy here.


The Sevenfold Hunters by Rose Egal

Sci-fi fans will love this genre-bending debut full of cutthroat school politics and the speculative intrigue of alien contact.

There’s nothing hijabi alien hunter Abyan wants more than to graduate from Carlisle Academy and finally rid the Earth of aliens, the Nosaru. 

Everything is going to plan until the Nosaru kill one of Abyan’s squad mates. To make matters worse, the school admins replace her elite squad member with a sub-par new recruit, Artemis. Despite Artemis failing every test—and bringing the team down with her—their cutthroat instructors refuse to kick her out.

Together Abyan, Artemis and the rest of the team unravel the mystery of why Artemis is actually there, what the Nosaru really want, and what Carlisle Academy has been hiding from them all.

Page Street Publishing, 6th December. Grab a copy here.


Love from Mecca to Medina by S.K. Ali

‘On the trip of a lifetime, Adam and Zayneb must find their way back to each other in this surprising and romantic sequel to the “bighearted, wildly charming”’ (Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author) Love from A to Z.

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart. 

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable. 

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

Simon & Schuster, 8th December. Grab a copy here.


Mini Author Q&A ft A.M. Dassu

A.M. Dassu’s Fight Back is her latest children’s fiction book, following on from internationally acclaimed Boy, Everywhere, which published to rave reviews – including being listed as one of The Guardian’s, Bookriot’s, Kirkus’s, American Library Association’s Booklist’s, CLPE’s and BookTrust’s Best Children’s Book of the Year.

We had the pleasure of asking A.M. Dassu some questions about her latest publication, and you can find her thoughtful responses below!


What inspired you to write Fight Back?

The media has a lot to answer for. I wrote Fight Back because I wanted to
put a spotlight on Muslims who are always in the news – for the wrong
reasons – and explore what that might feel like in a school setting and as a
family. I also wanted to explore what it feels like to struggle to express your
identity and then find the courage to be proud of it, and to realise that you’re
not alone and there are many others from all sorts of backgrounds
experiencing the same. Most of all I wanted to show that when we come
together, our voices are stronger.

Fight Back was borne from my desire to challenge stereotypes and was
inspired by recent terrorist events and the subsequent rise of the far-right, and
my desire to put a spotlight on a community that is vilified in the media just
like The Hate U Give did back in 2017.

Through Fight Back I wanted to show a different side to a story the world
thinks it knows. I wanted to show how Islamist terrorism affects Muslims and
also how far-right beliefs not only affect Muslims, Jews and people of colour
but equally the families of far-right ideologists. I also wanted to show that it is
not only a white working class problem; in Fight Back we see how the
negative narrative affects people of all ages and backgrounds, affects Sukhi’s
mum, Mr Kumar, Mrs Owen, Darren, and even Yusuf.

My first novel looked at what it’s like to be a refugee. With this one I wanted to
look at what it’s like to be a Muslim today but what makes this novel different
is that it pans out and looks at the experiences of others who are
discriminated against too. It shows what we have in common and what can
happen when we come together.


What did you find most challenging when writing this story?

The research for this book was harrowing. The most difficult: articles and
footage of young people fleeing a concert bombing, seeing far right posters
and leaflets – just like the ones depicted in this story – displayed on
lampposts and posted into homes in the UK as recently as 2017 and also
2022, speaking to girls Aaliyah’s age who faced the same anxiety and
prejudice, and listening to people with the diverse lived experiences featured
in this book about being judged and their identities stereotyped.

I thought Boy, Everywhere would be the hardest book I’d write, but actually I
found writing Fight Back so hard because the themes are just as challenging
and painful. Adults tend to think that young people don’t think about what’s
happening in the news, but sadly the ripple effects of events in the news can
be far reaching and when writing, I kept in mind that there are children all over
the world experiencing the same prejudice Aaliyah does. And that was
simultaneously a struggle but also motivating.


What did you find most rewarding?

Finally representing the Muslim experience authentically and showing the
impact of “Islamist” terrorism on us by challenging the negative stereotype we
see in the news and in movies/TV shows.

The most rewarding was showing the connection we all have by amplifying
the voices of young people and writing a story that showed them that things
may get bleak, but you will get through them.

Also creating the “us” and them” narrative – bringing “us” all together against
“them”, the minority hateful few.


How did this writing experience differ between that of Boy, Everywhere?

Boy, Everywhere looked at what it’s like to be a refugee. Fight Back looks at
what it’s like to be a Muslim today while panning out and exploring the
experiences of others who are also discriminated against. And while I did do
that in Boy, Everywhere too, with Fight Back I wanted to show what we have
in common and the possibilities when we come together.

With both stories I wanted to show a different perspective and challenge the
negative media narrative and show how it affects characters from various
religious and ethnic backgrounds.

I thought it’d be easier writing my second novel because it was own voices
and so I wouldn’t have to do much research, but boy was I wrong! It was so
much harder because I had to ensure what I put on the page was
representative and made sense to everyone else outside of my lived
experience. And because I am so ‘extra’ I ended up speaking to just as many
people for research. With Boy, Everywhere I spoke to lots of refugees and
friends from Damascus or in Damascus. For Fight Back I consulted teachers,
librarians, students in the UK, psychologists, people who’d been to the Ariana
Grande concert, Muslim, Jewish, Chinese, Black and Sikh readers. It was just
as much work and I was exhausted by the end of it (mostly because of how
much I panic about writing authentically)!

I’ve learned that getting the plot right in any book is always challenging and no
matter how formulaic I am, I will always need to revise and rewrite to make
the story a page-turner. And I really don’t like the process because I’m so
impatient, but I know it’s what I have to do. But this time towards the end, I
was a lot clearer in how I wanted to make the book inclusive and empowering
for all kids, and I really loved that.


What is one book you can’t wait to read in 2022?

As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh, the first YA by a Syrian author. I have the proof copy and I am so ready to shout about this book. Send me some time and I am not putting it down!


Last but not least, your must-have when writing, and why?

Peace and quiet, but custard creams help a whole lot too!


A. M. Dassu is an award winning writer of both nonfiction and fiction, including the internationally acclaimed novel Boy, Everywhere, an ALA Notable Book which was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal and was one of The Guardian’s and Bookriot’s Best Children’s Books of 2020 and has been listed for 25 awards including the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She is former Deputy Editor now on the Advisory Board of SCBWI-BI’s magazine, Words & Pictures, a Director at Inclusive Minds, one of the lead authors in The National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories campaign, a patron of The Other Side of Hope, a literary magazine, edited by immigrants and refugees which serves to celebrate the refugee and immigrant communities worldwide, and the Society of Author’s Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group committee member.


Scholastic Children’s Books (June, 2022)

Order your copy of Fight Back at Bookshop.org (and help support local Indies!), or Waterstones.

You can find A.M. Dassu on Twitter and Instagram.

Ramadan Means … by Radiya Hafiza

What does Ramadan mean to me? It feels difficult to find one word but I think ultimately, for me, it’s about TRYING. Ramadan is the time for me to try and be a better Muslim, to get closer to Allah, to pause and take account of myself, and particularly my heart. Where am I? Where am I going? And how do I get there?

There’s no other time of year where I’m able to try as hard as I do than during Ramadan. I’m grateful for the blessings of this month, the ease that’s given to us by Allah to help us fast, do good deeds and extra prayers. During this month, I try to stay away from being mindless and limit my own pastimes like TV and social gatherings (not always successful), and try instead to fill my heart with what it’s missing which is the worship and remembrance of Allah.

It’s a bit of a religious and spiritual bootcamp for me; trying to go back to the essence of what I believe I’m here for. I always have grand plans for this month but never get to achieve as much as I aimed to, but I take some comfort in knowing that I’ve tried. This is my first Ramadan as a new mum so I’ve found I don’t have time to do even a third of what I normally used to. So instead I’m trying to do things like praying my five prayers on time, tasbeeh throughout the day, reciting some Quran, or listening to short reminders online. I’m trying to rid my heart of its grudges and ill feelings, trying to clean my tongue so it speaks only good or remains silent. It’s hard to confront yourself and work on your shortcomings but I want to leave Ramadan better than I entered it, even if the changes are small.

I know I can fall short in trying to do the right thing, in trying to be a good Muslim, but Ramadan reminds me that there is always time and space to do something good, even if it’s a little thing like sharing food with neighbours or giving charity. Living through Ramadan reminds me that there is more to life
than its usual rites as my priorities often get clouded throughout the rest of the year.

Ramadan is a reset button, a chance to turn my life around. When life is weighing me down to the brink of no return, Ramadan comes at the right time to lift me up. It is hope, it is help; it is a lifeline.


Radiya Hafiza studied English Language and Literature at King’s College London and worked in publishing for a few years. She is behind the fantastic blog The Good Assistant. Radiya grew up reading classic Western fairy tales that never had any brown girls in them – Rumaysa is her debut novel, bringing such stories to children who need to see themselves represented.


Rumaysa Ever After by Radiya Hafiza is out now in paperback (£7.99, Macmillan Children’s Books)

Ramadan Means … by Adiba Jaigirdar

Two years ago, when Ramadan happened in the midst of lockdown, I remember mentioning to someone this Ramdan was particularly difficult because of covid. They seemed surprised. They asked why it would be difficult. After all, wasn’t Ramdan fasting? Abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset? I could understand why an outsider to the Muslim community may not understand why fasting during lockdown–essentially in isolation–completely changes what the experience of Ramadan feels like. That’s because Ramadan and COMMUNITY go hand-in-hand. 

In fact, there is no other time that I’ve really felt this sense of community and togetherness that I do during Ramadan. Perhaps it’s because Ramadan gives us a reason to come together. In the early hours of the morning, my family and I sit down to eat sehri together; barely awake enough to hold a conversation, but somehow sharing in that tiredness too. We count down the minutes to fajr, downing glass after glass of water. Similarly, in the evening, we all sit around the iftar table waiting for Maghrib so we can break our fast together. When there is no pandemic or lockdown, Ramadan means inviting family friends to join us in breaking our fast. And even during the pandemic, Muslims found ways to ensure we kept up our sense of community. My family sent iftar to other families in our area and community. My family from abroad sent money so we could buy ourselves iftar on their behalf. There is even community in the charity that we participate in; whether it is donating food and money to our local mosque, or donating to help families back in our homelands. 

But there is a wider community at play too. There is a sense of community in knowing that Muslims all over the world are spending this holy month joined through our spirituality. And that as we fast together, we are also growing together spiritually; even if we may be miles apart.


Adiba Jaigirdar is the critically-acclaimed and bestselling author of The Henna Wars and Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating. A Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher, she has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she is probably ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, or expanding her overflowing lipstick collection. She can be found at adibajaigirdar.com or @adiba_j on Twitter and @dibs_j on Instagram.


A Million to One publishing December 2022

Ramadan Means … by Nafiza Azad

All relationships, no matter how slight or intimate, need work to be maintained. Especially if, as I have come to discover, that relationship is with the divine, with Allah (swt). So this year, the one word that will encompass Ramadan for me is IBADAH.

Being born Muslim, I often felt shoved into a religion everyone assumed I knew but which, in reality, was still an enigma to me. As a child, I had questions but the people who ought to have answered them often made me feel bad for daring to ask them. All dialogue was shut down with threats of hell. All the bayaans I heard reiterated how terrible people (and to my young mind, I) were and how we should spend every single moment of our waking lives penitent even as we knew we wouldn’t be forgiven.

Being very young at that time, I didn’t understand how I could have managed to commit unforgiveable sins in the short time I had been alive. Instead of cultivating a relationship with God, I decided that since I was bad, I might as well stay bad. Obviously, this was within limits as there are not many opportunities (or much courage) to be bad in a small village in Lautoka, Fiji.

Pursuing my faith was a conscious decision I made some years ago as I grappled with identity and the hatred that this identity seems to provoke in people. And it is never so easy as to pursue this faith, this relationship, as during Ramadan. The beauty of Islam is visible always to those who seek to see it but the peace of it is almost tangible in the thirty days that make up Ramadan. Ibadah during this month is inordinately smooth. Ibadah is not just praying five times a day or reading the Quran or doing zikr. Sometimes patience can be Ibadah. Smiling at a stranger or suppressing your anger can be Ibadah. Giving of yourself without expecting anything in return is also Ibadah.

As a writer, I often need to stop and refill my creative wells before I continue creating worlds. During this month of intense reflection, spirituality, and worship, I can be flawed and human without hating myself, knowing and comforted by this knowledge that Allah (swt) will accept and love me as I am even as I try to become a better person.


Nafiza Azad is a self-identified island girl. She has hurricanes in her blood and dreams of a time she can exist solely on mangoes and pineapple. Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she currently resides in British Columbia, Canada where she reads too many books, watches too many K-dramas, and writes stories about girls taking over the world. Her debut YA fantasy was the Morris Award–nominated The Candle and the Flame. The Wild Ones is her second novel. You can find Nafiza on Twitter @Nafizaa and Instagram @nafizaaz.


Road of the Lost publishing October 2022