Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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“A masterful, must-read contribution to conversations on power, justice, healing, and devotion from a singular voice I now trust with my whole heart.”—GLENNON DOYLE, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed
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.
AN AUDACIOUS BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: Electric Lit, Autostraddle, Book Riot, SheReads, WBUR
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.
About the Author
Lamya H is a former Lambda Literary Fellow whose writing has appeared in Vice, Salon, Vox, Black Girl Dangerous, Autostraddle, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She currently lives in New York with her partner.
“A masterful, must-read contribution to conversations on power, justice, healing, and devotion from a singular voice I now trust with my whole heart.”—Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed
“Hijab Butch Blues is a challenging and deeply satisfying and enlightening read.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
“Hijab Butch Blues is more than a must-read. It’s a study guide on Islam, a handbook for abolitionists, and a queer manifesto. It inspires critical thinking, upholds activist self-care, and permits the defining of one’s own queerness. By the end of it, readers will see queerness—theirs, others’, and the concept—'for what it is: a miracle.’”—NPR
“A gripping and beautiful memoir. I couldn’t put it down.”—Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“This coming-of-age memoir—transnational, transcontinental, Muslim, brown, queer—reads as an invitation into the turbidity of faith, and gives no easy answers.”—BOMB
“Lamya H’s memoir about coming of age as a queer hijabi Muslim offers an inspiriting vision of a world in which queerness and the Quran are not only compatible but illuminative of one another.”—Electric Literature
“With precision, compassion, and deeply observed storytelling, Lamya Hnavigates the fault lines of life and love in a queer Muslim body.”—Linda Villarosa, author of Under the Skin
“A richly textured and deeply moving testament to the power of faith. . . Leaping effortlessly from the personal to the political, Hijab Butch Blues … is sure to become a queer classic.”—Kai Cheng Thom, author of Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars
“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. 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. Lamya H moves with curiosity, humor, and vulnerability, divining new sources of hope and of life.”—Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide
“A singular memoir about identity, queerness, racism, and resistance that engages with the Islamic faith in open, nuanced, and quietly radical ways.”—Arifa Akbar, author of Consumed
“As the author examines her evolving relationship to her religion, she also vibrantly explores what it means to live with an open-minded, open-hearted activist seeking to change the world for the better.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A generous, probing and brilliant response to the question of how [Lamya H] could be both a queer person and a practicing Muslim . . .”—Bookpage, starred review