5. Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women Ed. Ayesha Mattu & Nura Maznavi
Along the bookstore tour of the DC/Baltimore area, I introduced my friend to Busboys and Poets on 14th & V St. Though it's sadly more of a restaurant (or happily, the food is quite good) than a bookstore, it still has a uniquely curated collection of activist literature and poetry. In fact, the last time I'd been there, I almost bought Love, InshAllah, because a girl I knew from high school was published in it. Instead, I surreptitiously read her story and left, because I couldn't justify the expense. This time, I decided to splurge (the main difference between now and then being that I can count on having employment).
Love InshAllah fulfills two of my reading goals this year: more short stories and authors from a minority group. On these fronts, it is quite successful. These stories are exactly what they claim to be, experiences of American Muslim women from a variety of backgrounds. This is not great literary writing (though, I think, personally, that my acquaintance's is the best, but I won't try to bias you). It is more moments in these women's lives, related to their experiences with love, sex, marriage etc. What I did not expect is that many of these women are converts to Islam, and in retrospect, I can't believe I didn't realize that, of course, that would constitute a significant proportion of the American Muslim experience. There are also women born into Muslim families, originating from South Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Africa, as well as the Middle East.
I would recommend Love, InshAllah to those interested in learning more about the American Islamic experience, particularly in regard to love, sex, marriage, LGBT issues etc., and also to those who have lived through it, I imagine this book would be especially affirming. I applaud the authors' mission, and have also enjoyed reading their ongoing blog, where many of the authors featured in the book have follow-up stories like this one.