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Sumbul Ali-Karamali

This year, for the first time in my writing career, I resolved to focus completely on the scheduled May release of my new book, Demystifying Shariah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It’s Not Taking Over Our Country. Alas for my scheduling hubris! The virus has delayed the release until August, which disappointed me at first, but which I now realize gives me a bit of extra time to transition from the solitary and often hair-pulling work of writing to the pragmatically social work of book-touring and building intercultural bridges. Demystifying Shariah has just received a starred review from Booklist, which leads me to hope my readers will find the subject as fascinating as I did! 

In the meantime, how grateful I am to have shelter and a comfortable place! My daughter is at high risk from this virus, so it’s a scary moment. But we are thankful that we can take care of her. When Ramadan starts on April 23 (a month of fasting!), it will, as always, help us focus on gratitude and how we can help others. 

I do miss my weekly library visits, though, and have consequently overspent online at my local booksellers. I regularly hunt for excellent writing that won’t depress me for days, give me nightmares, or blindside me with stereotypes of Muslims – harder than you may believe. My nightstand therefore boasts some comforting old favorites as well as new ones. 

Whenever I need vivid, unpretentious prose of the most beautiful kind I reread A.S. Byatt’s The Matisse Stories. Michael Chabon’s creamy writing I savor slowly, like Darjeeling, and of his books, I revisit The Final Solution most often. I periodically take one-story sips from Samiak Vossoughi’s Better Than War. I have just finished Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which is one of the best books I’ve read in a decade. 

I do love good whodunits, especially if detailed settings and rich atmosphere round out the mystery. I’m waiting impatiently for Alan Bradley to write a new Flavia novel: I always marvel at how well he depicts a preteen sleuth in an adult book, while simultaneously maintaining a first-person narrative that’s anything but childlike. In the meantime, I’ve acquired the latest in Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series, at the risk of increased cravings for tea and cakes. I’ve also newly discovered Benet Brandreth’s The Spy of Venice, a William Shakespeare mystery! It’s full of sly, clever references to the plays. 

Sometimes, at least for me, too much fiction is like too much candy. I need to intersperse it with some healthy (but delicious) nonfiction, such as: White Mughals by William Dalrymple; Juan Cole’s groundbreaking and readable biography, Muhammad; and Sophia Rose Arjana’s Veiled Superheroes

I hope you, too, all have a comfortable place to shelter with books. In case you need humor to get through some of the news, try hilarious satire by Terry Pratchett, like Going Postal. And if you, like me, find yourself cooking more than you ever have, do peruse Mourad Lahlou’s Mourad (it is so much more than just a cookbook). And do please support your local bookstore if you can!

Demystifying Shariah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It’s Not Taking Over Our Country Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807038000
Availability: In Stock In Store
Published: Beacon Press - August 11th, 2020

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060777104
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - November 1st, 2005

Better Than War: Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction #19) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780820353746
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Georgia Press - March 1st, 2018

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385343497
Availability: In Stock In Store
Published: Bantam - January 19th, 2010

A Study In Scarlet Women (The Lady Sherlock Series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425281406
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - October 18th, 2016

The Spy of Venice: A William Shakespeare Mystery (William Shakespeare Mysteries #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643132662
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pegasus Books - December 10th, 2019

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India Cover Image
ISBN: 9780756957261
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Perfection Learning - April 1st, 2004

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568587813
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bold Type Books - March 3rd, 2020

Veiled Superheroes: Islam, Feminism, and Popular Culture Cover Image
By Sophia Rose Arjana, Kim Fox (With), Wajahat Ali (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781498536547
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Lexington Books - May 23rd, 2019

Going Postal: A Novel of Discworld Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062334978
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - October 28th, 2014

Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385740968
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ember - August 6th, 2013