Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now
A queer hijabi Muslim immigrant survives her coming-of-age by drawing strength and hope from stories in the Quran in this “raw and relatable memoir that challenges societal norms and expectations” (Linah Mohammad, NPR).
“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
AN AUDACIOUS BOOK CLUB PICK • WINNER: The Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize, the Stonewall Book Award, the Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Autostraddle, Book Riot, BookPage, Harper’s Bazaar, Electric Lit, She Reads
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.
“This beautiful, exquisitely written memoir is as revolutionary now in its vulnerability, honesty, and as the gender explorations in Stone Butch Blues were in 1993 . . . a challenging and deeply satisfying and enlightening read.”—Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Bad Feminist
“As funny as it is original.”—The New York Times
“Hijab Butch Blues is a raw and relatable memoir that challenges societal norms and expectations. Through personal experiences, Lamya H navigates the complexities of gender, sexuality and faith as a queer, nonbinary Muslim. The book is a manifesto for self-acceptance and a call to action for dismantling rigid binaries. It’s a powerful reminder that we are all capable of defying labels and embracing our true selves.”—NPR, “Books We Love for 2023”
“There are people who will call this book blasphemous . . . but there will also be those readers whose minds will be opened, their perspectives broadened, and their binary ways of thinking dismantled.”—The New Arab
“Hijab Butch Blues is quite simply a new classic of queer literature, just like its allusive title implies. . . . Smart and compassionately written . . . Every chapter is incredibly moving and unfailingly surprising in the ways it connects Quran passages with Lamya’s life.”—Autostraddle (Best Queer Books of 2023)
“A truly remarkable rupture in the literary fold. With a precision of prose that is at once riveting and clear-sighted, the ethical and spiritual lessons of the holy book are shown to empower [Lamya’s] queerness instead of obfuscating it.”—Bobuq Sayed, Apogee
“Incisive, achingly honest and thought-provoking.”—Shelf Awareness
“By turns joyful and harrowing . . . profoundly generous and full of perfectly observed moments.”—Xtra Magazine
“Reads as an invitation into the turbidity of faith, and gives no easy answers.”—BOMB
“An inspiring vision of a world in which queerness and the Quran are not only compatible but illuminative of one another.”—Electric Literature
“Searing . . . a bold story of taking hold of one’s life and building something completely unique.”—BuzzFeed
“[Lamya’s] determination to fight for a better world is inspiring…will leave readers feeling uplifted and empowered.”—Queer Space Magazine
“Exciting and candid . . . heralded as a new queer classic.”—Ms. Magazine
“A gripping and beautiful memoir. I couldn’t put it down.”—Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“A revelation . . . with precision, compassion, and deeply observed storytelling, Lamya H navigates 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 Falling Back in Love with Being Human
“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 . . . 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, bestselling author of This Here Flesh
“Wonderful. I wish Hijab Butch Blues could be on every school curriculum, everywhere.”—Harriet Kline, author of This Shining Life