Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir (Hardcover)
The most beautifully authentic and structurally creative memoir I've read in ages. Lamya H's voice is urgent, tender, and utterly unforgettable.— From Gabe
A queer hijabi Muslim immigrant survives her coming-of-age by drawing strength and hope from stories in the Quran in this daring, provocative, and radically hopeful memoir.
When fourteen-year-old Lamya H realizes she has a crush on her teacher—her female teacher—she covers up her attraction, an attraction she can’t yet name, by playing up her roles as overachiever and class clown. Born in South Asia, she moved to the Middle East at a young age and has spent years feeling out of place, like her own desires and dreams don’t matter, and it’s easier to hide in plain sight. To disappear. But one day in Quran class, she reads a passage about Maryam that changes everything: when Maryam learned that she was pregnant, she insisted no man had touched her. Could Maryam, uninterested in men, be . . . like Lamya?
From that moment on, Lamya makes sense of her struggles and triumphs by comparing her experiences with some of the most famous stories in the Quran. She juxtaposes her coming out with Musa liberating his people from the pharoah; asks if Allah, who is neither male nor female, might instead be nonbinary; and, drawing on the faith and hope Nuh needed to construct his ark, begins to build a life of her own—ultimately finding that the answer to her lifelong quest for community and belonging lies in owning her identity as a queer, devout Muslim immigrant.
This searingly intimate memoir in essays, spanning Lamya’s childhood to her arrival in the United States for college through early-adult life in New York City, tells a universal story of courage, trust, and love, celebrating what it means to be a seeker and an architect of one’s own life.
“Hijab Butch Blues is a revelation, an emotional journey of faith, family, community, and sexuality. With precision, compassion, and deeply observed storytelling, Lamya H—a new, distinctive voice—navigates the fault lines of life and love in a queer Muslim body.”—Linda Villarosa, author of Under the Skin
“Hijab Butch Blues is a richly textured and deeply moving testament to the power of faith—not only in the divine, but in the human spirit. In spare yet poetic prose, the author gifts us with stories from her quest to find belonging as a queer hijabi immigrant in America. Leaping effortlessly from the personal to the political, Hijab Butch Blues is one of those rare texts that seamlessly weave trenchant social analysis with gorgeous storytelling skill. This book is sure to become a queer classic.”—Kai Cheng Thom, author of Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars
“A singular memoir about identity, queerness, racism, and resistance that engages with the Islamic faith in open, nuanced, and quietly radical ways . . . I love Lamya’s intimate, intelligent, and honest voice.”—Arifa Akbar, author of Consumed
“Lamya H has fashioned in this book what I never thought possible: she describes a world in which I could live.”—Kazim Ali, author of Fasting for Ramadan
“To be invited into the richness of Lamya’s interior world—the beauty of childhood skepticism, the complexity of Muslim storytelling, and the glory of life in a queer body—is no minor gift. Hijab Butch Blues is for anyone coming home to themselves in a world content to disorient us. Lamya H will show us the way.”—Cole Arthur Riley, author of This Here Flesh
“Hijab Butch Blues treats gender and devotion with a thrilling sense of multiplicity and expansiveness. This is a book attentive to the fullness of being human. Lamya H moves with curiosity, humor, and vulnerability, divining new sources of hope and of life.”—Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide
“Profoundly emotional.”—Publishers Weekly