Award-winning Novelist & Poet
- Two Truths and a Lie: Memoir & Autobiographical Fiction
- An Evening with Bushra Rehman
“Rehman’s poems are about home–the ones we inherit, flee, the homes we lose and still carry, and the homes we become for each other.” —Kamilah Aisha Moon
“An unforgettable voice that moves you from the start.” —People Magazine
“Stunningly beautiful.” —The New York Times Book Review
Bushra Rehman grew up in a tight-knit religious community in Queens surrounding one of the first Sunni masjids built in NYC. As a writer, teaching artist and cultural activist, her connection with audiences comes from decades of sharing her distinct brand of storytelling and political dialogue in community gatherings, at theaters, and in universities.
Rehman’s first work of fiction, Corona (Sibling Rivaly Press, 2013), a dark comedy about being Muslim American was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of its favorite books about NYC. Her first collection of poems, Marianna’s Beauty Salon (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018) was described by Joseph O. Legaspi, co-founder of Kundiman, as a “love poem for Muslim girls, Queens, and immigrants making sense of their foreign home–and surviving.”
Most recently, Rehman published Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion (Macmillan, 2022), which was long-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. A New York Times and New Yorker Editor’s Choice and a Best Book of the Year from NPR, Electric Literature, and Buzzfeed, Roses is a modern classic about what it means to be Muslim and queer in a Pakistani-American community.
Of Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion, the New York Times wrote: “Rehman evokes time and place like a poet, with descriptions both precise and lyrical, making the streets of this working-class neighborhood come alive on the page… Where a lesser book might have stooped to stereotypes about Muslims or immigrants, Rehman shows readers the complexities within Razia’s community. Individuals are allowed to be surprising, even to themselves, in this deft and empathetic novel.”
In collaboration with writer Daisy Hernández, Rehman coedited the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism (Seal Press, 2002 & Hachette 2019). The landmark text offers gripping portraits of American life as seen through the eyes of young women of color. The anthology was chosen by Ms. Magazine as one of the “100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time” by Vibe magazine as one of “13 Books Every Mujerista and Womanist should read” and by Bustle as one of the “18 Books Every White Ally Should Read.” Rebecca Walker described Colonize This! “a must for young women of color searching for themselves within contemporary feminist/womanist discourse, and anyone else who wants to get down with the fierceness of fly, intellectual divas of color.”
Rehman has been a teaching artist for over twenty years with organizations including: Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Urban Word NYC, Kundiman and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She is creator and facilitator of the popular community writing workshop Two Truths and a Lie: Writing Memoir and Autobiographical Fiction, a class for queer BIPOC writers and allies.
Rehman’s dark comedy, Corona, was chosen by the NY Public Library as one of its favorite books about NYC. She is co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism and author of the collection of poetry Marianna’s Beauty Salon, described by Joseph O. Legaspi as “a love poem for Muslim girls, Queens, and immigrants making sense of their foreign home–and surviving.” Her new novel, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion, is a modern classic about what it means to be Muslim and queer in a Pakistani-American community was chosen as a Best Book and Editor’s Choice by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, Good Morning America, Goodreads, The Chicago Review, BuzzFeed, Lit Hub, Lambda Literary, BookRiot, PopSugar, The AV Club, E! News, Ms. Magazine and more.Visit Author Website
Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion
Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing miniskirts, and cutting school to explore the city. When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future. Punctuated by both joy and loss, full of ’80s music and beloved novels, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a new classic: a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.
Marianna's Beauty Salon
Bushra Rehman’s debut collection singes in its interrogation of the American dream while capturing the lives of a neighborhood in transition. These sly, adept poems work through circumstances under threat with audacity, humor, and wonder. Rehman offers a new kind of fairy tale, surreal yet rooted in harsh, ugly modern realities. Simply and profoundly, her book is a love poem for Muslim girls, Queens, and immigrants making sense of their foreign home–and surviving.
Razia Mirza is a Pakistani woman from Corona who grew up in a tight Muslim community surrounding the first Sunni masjid built in New York City. When a rebellious streak leads to her ex-communication, she decides to hit the road. Corona moves between Razia’s childhood in Queens and the comedic misadventures she encounters on her journey, from a Puritan Colony in Massachusetts to New York City’s Bhangra music scene. With each story, we learn more about the past she’s escaping, a past which leads her to constantly travel in a spiral, always coming closer to but never quite arriving home.
Anthology, 2002 & 2019
Articles & Audio
Read What’s In Print
• A Queer Coming-of-Age in Corona, Queens – New York Times
• Review of Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion – The New Yorker
• Bushra Rehman Tells the Tale of Leaving Home – Publisher’s Weekly
• Complicating Narratives: A Conversation with Bushra Rehman – The Rumpus
• Two Truths, Many Lies, and a Novel – AAWW
• A Queer Pakistani Teenager Forges Her Own Path in New York City – Electric Literature
• A Story Fueled by Childhood, Growth, and Tight Bonds – Shondaland
Listen to Audio
• A Coming of Age Queer Love Story in Queens – All Of It
• A Coming-of-Age Gem About Growing Up Queer and Muslim in America – Audibleblog
• Read an excerpt from Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion – Literary Hub
• Read “The Difference” & “Eid Al-Fitr” – The Margins
• Read “Corona Halal Meats” – The Margins
Among the Rockets
My mother and father lead the way, holding my little sisters in their arms. I run ahead, excited. It’s summer, and the streets of Corona swell with Muslims — men and young boys in new salwar kameez, sent special from family in Pakistan; women and girls, too, in reds, aquas and silvers, the kind usually found in the tails of mermaids and peacocks. We are headed early in the morning to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. For the month of Ramadan, we fasted from sunrise to sunset, spending our days in spiritual remembrance. Now we rejoice — eat sweets, give gifts and offer a communal prayer.
Once in the park, we become a river of walkers. We travel past the Hall of Science, with its graveyard of rocket ships and rippling walls. We know we are close when we see the Unisphere, a relic of the World’s Fair, a sculpture of Earth. On the ground, prayer sheets spread like moss. Our parents greet one another with laughter. I rush to join my friends, who are standing in a circle, and our glass bracelets tinkle as we show off the mehndi designs painted on our hands.
We are young, so we are allowed to roam. First we head to the Unisphere’s empty fountain bed; it has been dried out for years, but we don’t mind. For us, it’s a place to play freeze tag or just walk arm in arm around the perimeter. When we tire of this, we head to the New York State Pavilion. Its broken elevators look like the heads of stationary beasts, waiting, blinking their eyes. We enter the pavilion to touch the decaying map of New York laid out on the floor. When we do, eroding chunks of terrazzo fall apart in our hands.