Riverrun has bought a “queer Muslim memoir” by journalist and activist Samra Habib describing her childhood in Pakistan, arrival in Canada and realisation of her sexuality.
Commissioning editor Rose Tomaszewska bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Hana El Niwairi at Cooke International on behalf of Viking Canada. David Ross at Viking will publish We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir in June 2019 in Canada and riverrun will publish on 5th September in the UK and India.
Described as a “memoir of hope, faith and love”, Habib explains how she grew up as part of a minority sect in Pakistan, arrived in Canada as a refugee, fled an arranged marriage at 16 and came to terms with her sexuality. The synopsis explains: “So begins a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. It shows how Muslims can embrace queer sexuality, and families can embrace change. A triumphant story of forgiveness and freedom, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt alone and a testament to the power of being one’s true self.”
Habib is a writer, photographer, and activist who has covered topics ranging from fashion trends and Muslim dating apps to the rise of Islamophobia in the US. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, and Advocate, her portraits have been exhibited at the V&A in London and her photo project, “Just Me and Allah”, has been featured in a string of publications. She also works with LGBTQ organisations around the world.
She said: “I’m so excited to be working with Rose Tomaszewska at riverrun to bring my queer Muslim memoir to a UK audience. I wrote the kind of book I wish I had access to when I was a young queer immigrant kid from Pakistan. I hope that my book helps readers who understand what it’s like to feel out of place find the courage and strength to fearlessly inhabit their truest self.’”
Tomaszewska added: “I read Samra’s memoir in one astonished, heartening rush – it’s honest, urgent and empowering and by the end I’d fallen in love with it. I offered for the book before the anti-LGBT+ protests in Birmingham. Now it couldn’t be more important to publish a memoir about being both Muslim and queer, and the strength and happiness that can come with tolerance. I’m planning a widespread outreach to people who relate to this book because it is truly needed here in the UK.”