"Hijab Butch Blues" brings a fresh perspective to the exploration of identity, reminiscent of the heartfelt narratives in classics like "Stone Butch Blues.” Lamya H's writing at the intersections of immigration, queerness, and Islam solidly places this book a place on my teacher's shelf as well as my home library. This memoir sparks rich classroom conversations, challenging students to think deeply about the lineage of stories and the layers of personal and cultural identity. It's a compelling read that adds depth to discussions on literary analysis diversity and inclusion, resonating with anyone interested in the complexities of living authentically in a multifaceted world.
Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H is a beautiful rendering of a queer life lived through an Islamic lens. Told by a practicing Muslim, through the lens of beautiful stories pulled from the Quran, it is a book that will in equal measure break the heart, soothe the soul, and enlighten the mind. The author’s point of view and the interpretations of the passages are beautifully done. Lamya folds the reader into her world page by page, guiding them through her experiences of family, religious experience, and the expectations she has placed on her life and how she is expected to live it. It is an eye opening, wonderful read, that I can’t recommend enough!
Hijab Butch Blues is a memoir made up of several essays as well as discussion of people and values described in the Quran. Lamya discovers she is a lesbian as a young adult, but knows that in her family and culture, this is not something that will be easily accepted. As an adult she moves to New York and attends university, it is once she is there that she finally finds her way and is able to live a life more closely related to the one she dreams of (though she still faces many challenges with being muslim and a lesbian and can never fully be herself with her family and more conservative friends or acquaintances).
I enjoyed this book and felt connected to the author as she shared her story. As far as memoirs go it was well done, relatively easy to follow and despite having essays it was generally in chronological order rather than simply based on theme. At first I really appreciated the sections discussing the Quran, primarily because I know very little about it and wanted to learn more. That being said, I did get a little tired of it eventually, in the same way I would when reading a book with Christian bible verses. I did stick through because I really appreciated the other parts of the writing and understood the connection between the quran verses and her experiences as a muslim woman.
Overall, it was a great book with lots of new perspectives for me to explore. I am really glad I got a chance to read it and would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC copy!
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the Reader's Copy!
Whew, I cannot think of a better way of starting 2024 than with Lamya H's incandescent Hijab Butch Blues. I have never felt more seen, loved, or understood by a book as I did reading this coming of age story of a Pakistani by way of the Middle East queer Muslim. What I loved the most was reading Lamya's modern interpretation of stories from the Quaran. Figures like Maryam, Yunus, Nuh, and Hajar are revisited and brought to life as Lamya interrogates them with a modern set of values. I lauughed, I cried, I felt like I learned more than I did in therapy. Read this book ASAP!
This is a gripping memoir - one of the best books I've read in 2023. It should be required reading.
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
This was such a nuanced, gripping, character-driven story—I left feeling like I knew the cast inside and out. Excited to read more by this author!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.
I enjoyed this a lot. It was eye opening and was a catalyst for conversation I never really thought to have. I’m curious to learn more about the author and have since started following her on IG.
First, thank you to the publishers and to NetGalley for an eArc for this title in exchange for a fair and honest review!
About "Hijab Butch Blues," though... What can I say? It was as close to a perfect read as I've gotten lately. I'm genuinely speechless, but this one is a definite reread for me for sure. The writing is absolutely beautiful, the structure is fantastic, and I can't wait to purchase a copy for myself soon!
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. The weaving of Quran stories and her own life experiences was fascinating. This is also one of the best examples of intersectional feminism I’ve read and from a viewpoint I hadn’t read before. I really appreciated Lamya letting us into her thoughts and telling us her story. I now want to go read other essays and whatever she comes out with next
An arresting memoir that will definitely be a re-read in the near future. The author's introspection and unfiltered honesty, with the use of Quranic scripture and stories, contributes profoundly to this unique memoir of the queer experience and radical love. I could not get enough of this and have even bought my own physical copy!
I loved this very important book. It was a sometimes-heartbreaking, deeply honest look at the process of coming out in a culture and society that makes it very, very difficult. It also beautifully and painfully displays the difficulties of coming out to oneself-and the lengthy process this can. be. This is such a wonderful addition to the LGBTQ+ storytelling canon, and I hope to always have a copy on my shelf.
I first came across Lamya as a poet in Haymaket’s Halal If You Hear Me collection, and I was inherently interested when this came up as an arc. Lamya’s writing and the way she weaves her personal beliefs together with her experience as a butch lesbian and her larger cultural experience. I ended up tearing through this in the space of a few nights, and I can’t wait to see more from her.
One of the best queer memoirs I have ever read. The structure/format of it is so unique and like nothing I have ever read.
Wow. This book was just so beautifully written. I deeply related to Lamya's struggle to grow past her abandonment issues and make a life for herself where she views herself as someone valued. The deeply religious parts of this book throughout was really interesting to see, as many LGBT people have religious trauma. It was a bit refreshing to see such a positive, woman-focused badass narrative added to this deep faith. I enjoyed learning more about the Quran and it's stories as well. Lamya is a phenomenal writer with beautiful prose and narrative building abilities. I think the author really put their heart and soul into this book.
I ended up really loving this!! The structure of the book worked for me as each section referred back to a specific figure from the Quran. So many of the author’s reflections around queerness/faith/family/love resonated and I appreciated the care and insight with which she wrote this book. I appreciate a memoir that is both self and socially-reflexive, and found that the stories Lamya chose to share about their life had a “here is how and why I orient myself in the world this way” and I feel like I could have read so much more of this as the depth of insight kept building throughout the book.
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for the e-ARC!!
Hijab Butch Blues is an interesting read about one person’s journey with queerness and religion. I loved it. In this memoir, Lamya writes beautiful reflections on her identity, God, and family that I found relatable and poignant. The narrative arc follows Lamya through different parts of their life as reflected through various women from the Quran.
Through Lamya’s gorgeous writing, she shows how her relationship with religion gives her the freedom to apply lessons and themes from the Quran to her own life.
As someone who is personally not religious, I have ignorantly wondered how people are able to reconcile personal identity with religion when those two things seem to be at odds, at least from an outsider’s perspective.
Lama’s memoir opened my eyes and taught me that my own prejudices against religion have limited my view of the world. Lamya’s memoir is not only a beautiful self-reflection of the author’s journey, but an opportunity for non-religious people to understand a different point of view.
Lamya H.'s Hijab Butch Blues is flat out one of the best books I've ever read both in terms of content and the quality of its prose. Lamya H., born in south Asia, raised on the Arabian Peninsula, and now living as an immigrant in the U.S., writes under a pseudonym and leaves locations vague to preserve her anonymity, safety, and family connections. Why? Because as a devout Muslim, a lesbian, and an immigrant she's acutely aware of her tenuous state and aware of the lack of spaces where she can simultaneously exercise her faith and live as her true self.
To those coming from other, less tenuous situations, her need for anonymity may sound exaggerated—but for those who share her experiences and those willing to embrace the truths of her own life as she explains them, her concerns are well-founded. Her prose is both precise and beautiful. She challenges herself with her own thinking every bit as much as she does her readers.
What makes this book so remarkable is Lamya's integrity both as a Muslim trying to create a lens that allows her to see her faith broadly and affirmingly and as a scholar and political thinker aware of the ways colonialism and hierarchies of color shape our world.
The memoir swings, pendulum-like, between her own story and her reflections on the stories at the heart of Islam, stories that shape her understanding of what it means (or can mean) to be female and Muslim. This pairing of personal and theological truths is powerful and respectful of both individual and cultural identity.
If this description makes you think that Hijab Butch Blues will speak to you in remarkable ways, you're right. If this description makes you think that her story may have little to teach you, you're wrong. The carefully documented specifics of her life are what make this book universally essential reading. I'm urging you, if possible, to purchase a copy of this book. Publishers need to see that this is a topic and presentation valued to a wide range of readers. If you can't purchase it, request it now at your local library. We need a world of literature that is as broad as the world in which literature is written.
I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
What was the last book that gave you goosebumps?
Not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous to read this book because of the title - Stone Butch Blues was too emotionally heavy for me. But I'm SO GLAD I did because Hijab Butch Blues is fantastic, powerful, and introspective. There are heavy themes, yes, but there is also an undercurrent of queer love, reverence, and hope:
🌈The joy of beautifully-written, queer, nonbinary, butch, hijabi Muslim stories and representation!
🌈Queering the format - each essay draws parallels between Lamya's life and the stories of the Quran. Never seen anything like this before and it's excellent!
🌈Usually the intersection of queer identity and faith translates to big trauma. Instead, Lamya is devout because of their identity, not in spite of it. They see queerness in their religion and it's validating and transformative.
🌈The joy of finding your queer community, especially those that share your identities and lived experiences.
Big thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
Thank you to Net Galey and Random House for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. This memoir takes you on the journey with the author as she navigates her queerness and religion (Islam) and what it means to be a queer Muslim woman. Accepting herself for who she is but also finding her way with dating, presenting to the family, friends and the world. I appreciated the author's openness and sharing her thoughts and progression through her experience. Having a glimpse into another person's experience is priceless.