AMEMSA Voices Fiction

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Call# Fiction Jalaluddin

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela

Call# Fiction Aboulela

"When Salma, Moni, and Iman-friends and active members of their local Muslim Women's group-decide to take a road trip together to the Scottish Highlands, they leave behind lives often dominated by obligation, frustrated desire, and dull predictability. Each wants something more out of life, but fears the cost of taking it. Salma is successful and happily married, but tempted to risk it all when she's contacted by her first love back in Egypt; Moni gave up a career in banking to care for her disabled son without the help of her indifferent husband; and Iman, in her twenties and already on her third marriage, longs for the freedom and autonomy she's never known. When the women are visited by the Hoopoe, a sacred bird from Muslim and Celtic literature, they are compelled to question their relationships to faith and femininity, love, loyalty, and sacrifice"--

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Call# Fiction Jaswal

Nikki has spent most of her life distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community. After her father's death she takes a job teaching a creative writing course in the heart of the Punjabi community. When one of the women students brings a book of erotica to class, Nicki use it as the basis for helping these modest women unleash creativity by telling their own stories.

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Call# Fiction Rao

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, for readers of Rupi Kaur, about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstances but relentless in their search for one another. Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them. They are poor. They are driven. And they are girls. When Poornima was just a toddler, she was about to fall into a river. Her mother, beside herself, screamed at her father to grab her. But he hesitated: "I was standing there, and I was thinking...she's just a girl. Let her go...That's the thing with girls, isn't it...You think, Push. That's all it would take, Just one little push." After her mother's death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to take care of her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to secure for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls' perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.--Amazon.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Call# Fiction Joshi

"Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist--and confidante--to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own ... Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow--a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does."--Amazon

Homeland Elegies : a Novel by Ayad Akhtar

Call# Fiction Akhtar

"A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home"--

The Storyteller's Secret : a Novel by Sejal Badani

Call# Fiction Badani

Nothing prepares Jaya, A New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family's past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi -- her grandmother's former servant and trusted confidant -- who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya's pioneering grandmother during the British occupation. Through her courageous grandmother's arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible. -- from book jacket.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Call# Fiction Hosseini

Mariam and Laila are born a generation apart but are are brought together by war and fate. Together they endure the dangers surrounding them and discover the power of both love and sacrifice.

A Woman Is No Man : a Novel by Etaf Rum

Call# Fiction Rum

Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Islamic culture

You Exist Too Much : a Novel by Zaina Arafat

Call# Fiction Arafat

"On a hot day in Bethlehem, a twelve-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother's response only intensifies a sense of shame: 'You exist too much, ' she tells her daughter. Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East--from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine--Zaina Arafat's debut novel traces her protagonist's progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer"--Dust jacket flap.

AMEMSA Voices Nonfiction

A Fort of Nine Towers : an Afghan Family Story by Qais Akbar Omar

Call# 958.104 Oma

A young Afghan man's memoir of his family and country in which the horrors and perils he faced, his imprisonment, and his quiet resistance explore life in a country whose history has become deeply entwined with the United States, but has eluded understanding.

I Am Malala : the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Call# 921 Yousafzai

"When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world." -- Publisher's description.

I Was Told to Come Alone : My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet

Call# 363.325 Mek

"The journalist who broke the "Jihadi John" story draws on her personal experience to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and the West and explain the rise of Islamic radicalism. Souad Mekhennet has lived her entire life between worlds. The daughter of a Turkish mother and a Moroccan father, she was born and educated in Germany and has worked for several American newspapers. Since the 9/11 attacks she has reported stories among the most dangerous members of her religion; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination. In this compelling and evocative book, Mekhennet seeks to answer the question, "What is in the minds of these young jihadists, and how can we understand and defuse it?" She has unique and exclusive access into the world of jihad and sometimes her reporting has put her life in danger. We accompany her from Germany to the heart of the Muslim world -- from the Middle East to North Africa, from Sunni Pakistan to Shia Iran, and the Turkish/ Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner "Jihadi John," and then in Paris and Brussels, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization. Too often we find ourselves unable to see the human stories behind the headlines, and so Mekhennet - with a foot in many different camps - is the ideal guide to take us where no Western reporter can go. Her story is a journey that changes her life and will have a deep impact on us as well. "--

India After Gandhi : the History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha

Call# 954.04 Guh

Born in privation and civil war, divided by caste, class, language and religion, independent India emerged, somehow, as a united and democratic country. This remarkable book tells the full story--the pain and the struggle, the humiliations and the glories--of the world's largest and least likely democracy. Social historian Guha writes of the protests and conflicts that have peppered the history of free India, but also of the factors and processes that have kept the country together (and kept it democratic), defying numerous prophets of doom who believed that it would break up or come under autocratic rule. This story of modern India is peopled with extraordinary characters: Guha gives fresh insights on the lives and public careers of the long-serving prime ministers, but also writes with feeling and sensitivity about the major provincial leaders and other lesser known (though not necessarily less important) Indians--peasants, tribals, women, workers and musicians.--From publisher description.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Call# 921 Hirsi Ali

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no story could be timelier or more significant.--From publisher description.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Call# Graphic Novels 955.054 Sat

An intelligent and outspoken only child, Satrapi--the daughter of radical Marxists and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor--bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Reading Lolita in Tehran : a Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

Call# 820.9 Naf

This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi's tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran.

Tablet & Pen : Literary Landscapes From the Modern Middle East : a Words Without Borders Anthology

Call# 808.899 Tab

The countries that stretch along the broad horizons of the Middle East―from Morocco to Iran, from Turkey to Pakistan―boast different cultures, different languages, and different religions. Yet the literary landscape of this dynamic part of the world has been bound together not by borders and nationalities, but by a common experience of Western imperialism. Keenly aware of the collected scars left by a legacy of colonial rule, the acclaimed writer Reza Aslan, with a team of four regional editors and seventy-seven translators, cogently demonstrates with Tablet and Pen how literature can, in fact, be used to form identity and serve as an extraordinary chronicle of the disrupted histories of the region.

This Muslim American Life : Dispatches From the War on Terror by Moustafa Bayoumi

Call# 305.697 Bay

"Over the last few years, Moustafa Bayoumi has been an extra in Sex and the City 2 playing a generic Arab, a terrorist suspect (or at least his namesake 'Mustafa Bayoumi' was) in a detective novel, the subject of a trumped-up controversy because a book he had written was seen by right-wing media as pushing an 'anti-American, pro-Islam' agenda, and was asked by a U.S. citizenship officer to drop his middle name of Mohamed. Others have endured far worse fates. Sweeping arrests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the incarceration and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, based almost solely on their national origin and immigration status. The NYPD, with help from the CIA, has aggressively spied on Muslims in the New York area as they go about their ordinary lives, from noting where they get their hair cut to eavesdropping on conversations in cafés. In This Muslim American Life, Moustafa Bayoumi reveals what the War on Terror looks like from the vantage point of Muslim Americans, highlighting the profound effect this surveillance has had on how they live their lives. To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in an absurd space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In gripping essays, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present"--From publisher's website.

Waiting for an Ordinary Day : the Unraveling of Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi

Call# 921 Fassihi

Since 2003, Iraq’s bloody legacy has been well-documented by journalists, historians, politicians, and others confounded by how Americans were seduced into the war. Yet almost no one has spoken at length to the constituency that represents Iraq’s last best hope for a stable country: its ordinary working and middle class.

Farnaz Fassihi, The Wall Street Journal‘s intrepid senior Middle East correspondent, bridges this gap by unveiling an Iraq that has remained largely hidden since the United States declared their “Mission Accomplished.” Fassihi chronicles the experience of the disenfranchised as they come to terms with the realities of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In an unforgettable portrait of Iraqis whose voices have remained eerily silent — from art gallery owners to clairvoyants, taxi drivers to radicalized teenagers — Fassihi brings to life the very people whose goodwill the U.S. depended upon for a successful occupation. Haunting and lyrical, Waiting for An Ordinary Day tells the long-awaited story of post-occupation Iraq through native eyes.

AMEMSA Voices Young Adult

96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy

Call# Y Roy

While exploring her grandmother's past at an ashram in India with her cousin Anandi, seventeen-year-old Raya finds herself and, perhaps, true love in this modern retelling of the legend of Dushyanta and Shakuntala.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Call# Y Khorram

Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Call# Y Ahmed

Maya Aziz, seventeen, is caught between her India-born parents world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil, when a terrorist attack changes her life forever.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Call# Y Mafi

A year after 9/11, Muslim teenager Shirin has completely withdrawn from social life, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class and is tempted to actually let her guard down.

AMEMSA Voices DVD Recommendations

The Big Sick

Call# DVD Comedy Big

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.

He Named Me Malala

Call# Teen DVD 921 Yousafzai

An intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai, who was wounded when Taliban gunmen opened fire on her in Pakistan's Swat Valley. The shooting of the then fifteen-year-old teenager sparked international media outrage. An educational activist in Pakistan, Yousafzai has since emerged as a leading campaigner for the rights of children worldwide and in December 2014, became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Hotel Mumbai

Call# DVD Drama Hot

A true story of humanity and heroism, this film vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi and a waiter who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child.

The Kite Runner

Call# DVD Drama Kit

In a divided country on the verge of war, two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, are about to be torn apart forever. It's a glorious afternoon in Kabul and the skies are bursting with the exhilarating joy of a kite-fighting tournament. But in the aftermath of the day's victory, one boy's fearful act of betrayal will mark their lives forever and set in motion an epic quest for redemption. Now, after twenty years of living in America, Amir returns to a perilous Afghanistan under the Taliban's iron-fisted rule to face the secrets that still haunt him and take one last daring chance to set things right.

Lion

Call# DVD Drama Lio

Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Muslims in Michigan

Call# DVD 305.697 Mus

"Examines life for Muslim people living in Michigan. Beyond religion, the series explores the cultural, political, ethnic, and social lives of this diverse group."--Case.

Persepolis

Call# DVD Foreign Per

In 1970s Iran, Marjane 'Marji' Statrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family. Their long dream is realized when the hated Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, Marji grows up to witness first hand how the new Iran has become a repressive tyranny on its own. With Marji dangerously refusing to remain silent at this injustice, her parents send her abroad to Vienna to study. This change proves an equally difficult trial for Marji as she finds herself in a different culture loaded with abrasive characters and profound disappointments that deeply trouble her. Even when she returns home, Marji finds that both she and her homeland have changed too much and the young woman and her loving family must decide where she truly belongs.

A Separation

Call# DVD Foreign Sep

A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.

Slumdog Millionaire

Call# DVD Drama Slu

Jamal Malik is an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" When the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up. He describes their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Every chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible questions. When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers watch to find out if he can answer the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.

More AMEMSA Voices Recommendations

Resources

Podcasts

  • Arab Talk with Jess and Jamal brings news and analysis of the Arab World and Middle East, as well as issues affecting the Arab American community.

  • Identity Politics is a podcast that features new stories and perspectives about race, gender and Muslim life in America. From pop culture to politics, each episode co-hosts Ikhlas Saleem and Makkah Ali invite guests to talk about issues impacting their lives as Muslims at the intersection of multiple identities.

  • One Foot In The Sink is a light hearted Muslim lifestyle podcast. Join Anees and Foz, every two weeks, as they talk to inspirational guests who share their motivational stories, have some banter, discuss Muslim lifestyle hacks and some funny stories!

  • Three Queer Arabs (2 co-host the English episodes and 1 hosts the Arabic episodes) discuss love, sexuality and more within a cultural context. Join a Lebanese trans woman, a Saudi lesbian (English episodes) and two queer Iraqis (Arabic episodes) for all the drama that comes with trying to stay with our culture while being true to ourselves.