Welcome to story and chai, a creative space for readers and writers of non-majority lit, with a primary focus on Muslim narratives.
Since my novel, Painted Hands, released in the summer of 2013, I’ve received wonderful feedback from both Muslim and non-Muslim readers. Non-Muslims speak of new ways of thinking and talking about Muslim women, about questioning assumptions, about how we really are all more alike than different.
The reaction from Muslim women has been equally heartening, but also a little heartbreaking. They tell me that this is the first time that they’ve identified with characters in a novel. They say they could be friends with my characters, Amra and Zainab.
And often they thank me for portraying Muslim women as normal.
The repeated use of that word haunts me.
The repeated use of that word inspires me.
I believe that stories matter, that who gets to tell a story has real, tangible consequences for people’s lives, that knowing means at least a shot at not hating. It is my hope that if we tell our stories often enough and well enough, we can achieve something even better than tolerance.
It is my hope that we can achieve the radical notion of affection.
On story and chai, we’ll talk about books by and about people from non-majority groups, especially those who are Muslim. We’ll share perspectives and advice on writing and publishing. We’ll encourage aspiring writers. Maybe we’ll share our favorite kinds of tea.
But mostly, we’ll celebrate the incredible power of literature to allow us to know one another.