Picador pre-empts essay collection by Muslim women

16 August 2017

Picador has pre-empted a collection of essays edited by social media activist Mariam Khan, with senior editor Sophie Jonathan buying world English rights from Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency.

The project began its life when Mariam Khan read about a leaked conversation in which David Cameron said the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women made them unable to speak up against radicalization of young men in their communities. The Western world believes Muslim women don’t speak. But really, isn’t it the case that the West has always tried to speak over Muslim women, to tell their story for them? Mariam wants to challenge that: she is determined to create a new narrative where Muslim women write about their lives outside the parameters of the expectations projected on them.

This will be a collection of pieces by Muslim women about the Muslim female experience. Can Muslim women be feminist? Can Muslim women identify as queer? Are Muslim women oppressed by their hijabs? It will present a spectrum of varied, exciting voice, each speaking up for who they are and what they believe. Confirmed contributors include Mona Eltahawy, Blair Imani, and Malia Bouattia.

Sophie Jonathan said: ‘This is the most exciting proposal I’ve seen in the last few years and every word of this carefully conceived project blew me away. There is such erudition and confidence in Mariam’s writing, but also an intimacy I find profoundly moving. This will be an enormously powerful book, and one I know so many people want and need to read. Mariam does not propose to speak for a faith or a group of people, but the book will extend the conversation, and it will help to ensure that we learn about the Muslim female experience from Muslim women and no one else. Varied, dynamic and passionate, this is a project about listening and talking, a book for discussion and debate, a tool for education but also for celebration, and I know it will be at the heart of so many conversations. I cannot wait to get it out into the world.’

Mariam Khan said: ‘I’m delighted to be working with Sophie at Picador to create a book where Muslim women can tell their own stories, because honestly, when was the last time you listened to a Muslim woman speak for herself?’

Molly Ker Hawn said: ‘Sophie and the whole Picador team are clearly so passionate about this project — I’m delighted they’ll be publishing Mariam’s anthology.’

Mariam Khan is a 24-year-old social media activist and author of the much-discussed Femsplain essay ‘So, What Generation Immigrant Are You?’ She tweets at @helloiammariam.
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