Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teen Fiction With Muslim Heroes

Here are four recent YA novels (not memoir) featuring Muslim protagonists, the first two set in the western world, the second two taking place overseas:

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah  (read a review in Muslimah Media Watch)

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos (read a review in Muslimah Media Watch)

In The Name of God by Paula Jolin (read the Fire Escape's interview with the author)

Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar (read the Fire Escape's interview with the author)

When it comes to Muslim boys, I found two relatively recent novels I've not read, both featuring tweens and exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird and Dr. Sonia Nimr, and Samir and Yonatan by Daniella Carmi. 

I can't come up with even one contemporary fiction YA novel featuring an American, British, or North American teen guy hero of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, Muslim or otherwise. (BTW, I'm glad to see another blogger ranting about the dearth of such titles.)

Suggestions and additions, please?

7 comments:

holly cupala said...

There is a Persian male character (my main character's boyfriend) in my novel, but that won't be out until 2010. If you twisted my arm, I would probably confess that he looks a fair amount like my super-cute East Indian husband. ;)

Sarah Rettger said...

Randa Abdel-Fattah has a new one coming out (January, I think) - Ten Things I Hate About Me. I liked it better than Does My Head...

He's not the protagonist, but in An Abundance of Katherines, the best friend/sidekick is a somewhat observant Muslim (degree of observance varies with the influence of teenage boy-ness).

Mitali Perkins said...

Holly, can't WAIT to read the book.

Sarah, thanks! Now I must move AN A of K higher on the to-read list. I'd love to find a book where the guy is the hero and not a boyfriend or buddy/sidekick, though.

Katia said...

(Un)arranged Marriage, by Bali Rai

Tricia said...

I haven't read it yet, but I have been hearing really good things about Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World by Elsa Marston.

Mitali Perkins said...

Katia, thanks! I had never heard of the UK author and I just contacted him after your recommendation. Also, Tricia, I will have to get a copy of your suggestion -- I'd like to end up with two lists, one about teens in the arab world and one about teens of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent growing up in the west. Thank you, all.

sandhya said...

The LA Times has a fantastic article about Muslim youth and identity -
"The Koran, punk rock and lots of questions"
which makes reference to "The Taqwacores" by Michael Muhammad Knight, a novel which features "Umar, the straight-edge Sunni; Rabeya, the burqa-clad riot grrl; Jehangir, the dope-smoking mohawked Sufi (who plays rooftop calls-to-prayer on his electric guitar) — and their collective articulation of a heresy-friendly, pluralist Islam."

As an aside, I'm currently writing a curriculum guide for "This Is Where I Need To Be: Oral Histories of Muslim Youth in NYC." It's an insightful book published by the Student Press Initiative at Teachers College, which trains students as oral historians.