A Busy Book Release Summer

Porter Square Books in Cambridge

I've never been great about blogging, but with the release of my debut novel, I have entered into legitimate "fail" territory. It's been a fun but busy summer, with readings and panels and radio interviews and blog appearances.  Hopefully, the fall will bring more time for blogging. In the meantime, for updates on Painted Hands, book recs, thoughts on Muslim feminism, how my crazy vegan diet is going, etc. please check out my FB author page or my twitter feed.

You can also find a few essays I've written this summer here:

"The Truth About Multicultural Fiction" at The Rumpus

"When Bigotry Came to my Book Reading: A Muslim Feminist's Love Letter to Cambridge" at The Huffington Post

"This is What a Muslim Feminist Looks Like (Really)" at Drey's Library

Finally, links to my online interviews and guest posts can be found here.

Hope your summer has been wonderful!

An Update on Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair

Oh wait. That's me!

So I've been pretty bad about blogging lately. For what it's worth, I blame Facebook. And not just because it's trendy to blame Facebook, but because I made an author page there in addition to a personal profile, and I've been posting updates there instead of here. But also? I liked that the post on Muslim bad girls was at the top of the blog. I may eventually move it back up anyway, like I did after posting about my Ted Fox thing. (Sorry, Ted!)

So things are happening. Most importantly, Painted Hands will be released on June 11th. It's been a year and a couple of months since we got the offer from Toni Plummer at St. Martin's, and at the time it seemed like FOREVER to wait. But now? It feels like it has flown by.

In March, I went to New York to meet with Toni and my agent, Kent Wolf, and my in-house publicist. I was, of course, a nervous wreck. On the way to meet Kent at his office, my cab driver turned out to be a Pakistani Muslim. When he found out I was married to a Pakistani American man and I was a Muslim and I had a novel about Muslim women forthcoming from a major publisher, he got all fanboy on me, and it completely calmed me down. Kent was as brilliant and funny in person as he is on the phone--you should all have lunch with him if you can--and Toni was graceful and warm and lovely. The lunch only confirmed that I was in such great hands.

My in-house and independent publicists have just sent out about a zillion review copies, and I am waiting patiently (ha!) to see what happens with that. In the meantime, you can read this gorgeous review of Painted Hands by author Sarah Hina (Plum Blossoms in Paris, Medallion, 2010).

Some very awesome friends, Wendy Russ and Stephan Andrew Parrish, are planning a virtual release party on Facebook on June 11th. I hope you will be there! And for local people, some equally awesome friends and my awesome husband are throwing a party for me that weekend. Email me for details!

Let's see...what else. I have an essay on multicultural fiction and bigotry forthcoming from The Rumpus and I'll be interviewed or have guest posts on or near June 11th at places like Drey's Library and Shelf Pleasure. I'm also doing Richard Levangie's "25 Questions," and you know you want to see what my guilty pleasures are! A list of online appearances will be up soon on my Events and Media page, where right now you can find my local scheduled appearances, including the Boston Public Library and Porter Square Books in Cambridge.

I will say it a million times in the next few weeks, but let me start by saying it here: I could not have made this journey without the amazingly talented and generous and kind writers I have met through blogging and social media. You have read my work, and my inane blog posts, and shared similar experiences of writing and revising and querying and hoping and crying in a parking lot and dancing in the front yard with me. I adore you all, and I am so very grateful.

A Comment on "Muslim Bad Girls," plus updates

When I was querying my novel and trying to come up with a colorful, shorthand way to describe one of my main characters--Zainab Mir, a kick-ass, sharp-tongued, brilliant, successful Muslim woman--I immediately thought of what writer and activist Asra Nomani said in a 2005 op/ed for The Washington Post about Muslim feminists.

"To many," Ms. Nomani pointed out, "we are the bad girls of Islam."

This is, of course, different from "sluts," although certainly some people conflate women who speak out against patriarchal paradigms and women who exhibit so-called "loose morals" in an attempt to maintain the status quo.

Topic for another day.

And early in the process, one agent rejected my query/pages with the plucky lament, "I would have enjoyed this more if they had been truly 'bad' Muslim girls!"

Yes, well.

When I use the term "Muslim bad girl," I mean to convey something more along the lines of the slogan that women of my generation are apt to sport on tee-shirts and buttons and refrigerator magnets holding up school lunch calendars:

Well-behaved women seldom make history.

My embracing this term also probably suggests that if someone calls a woman "bad" for speaking out, for thinking for herself, for challenging social/cultural/religious gender norms, he/she and I might have some work to do.

I like this term so much that I closed my query letters by saying, "Like Zainab, I've probably been called a Muslim bad girl."

I mean, a woman can hope, right?


The last time I did an update here, the little pink stick figure in this post was a strong contender for my author photo. It was a close call, but I've decided to go with this instead, with a debt of gratitude to Brian Ziska for putting up with me during two photo shoots and even enduring a bee sting in the process. Talk about taking one for the team!


Last, but so not least, I was thrilled and honored to receive another lovely blurb recently. This one was from Anjali Banerjee, author of numerous novels including HAUNTING JASMINE, which I read a couple of years ago and loved, and ENCHANTING LILY, which is on my to-be-read pile near my bed:

An enlightening first novel, Jennifer Zobair's PAINTED HANDS dismantles the myths and stereotypes about what it means to be Muslim in American society today, Through interwoven stories of career-oriented women of Pakistani and Indian descent, navigating the tightrope of politics, personal ambition, and family expectations in modern Boston, PAINTED HANDS ultimately celebrates the redemptive, transcendent power of love and friendship.

PAINTED HANDS, my debut novel about "Muslim bad girls," but not "truly bad" Muslim women, is now available for preorder.


I have a little irreverent thing up at author Ted Fox's blog.

In case you don't know, Ted is a humor writer represented by the beloved Janet Reid. His book YOU KNOW WHO'S AWESOME?  (NOT YOU) is currently available and is as funny as his tweets.

On Fridays, Ted poses a question "at least tangentially related to humor," and asks someone to answer in 50-ish words. (Mine is double that, but he was kind enough not to point that out.). 

Thanks to Ted for hosting me, and to Wendy Russ for helping me get my 50 Words to him despite a power outage. You guys are--wait for it--awesome.