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Bushra Rehman in conversation with May-lee Chai

July 30 @ 6:00 pm

City Lights and Flatiron Books present

Bushra Rehman in conversation with May-lee Chai

discussing

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion

by Bushra Rehman

published by Flatiron Books

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice * An NPR Best Book of the Year * A Padma Lakshmi Book Club Pick

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.

Bushra Rehman grew up in Corona, Queens. She is co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, and author of the poetry collection Marianna’s Beauty Salon and the dark comedy Corona, one of the New York Public Library’s favorite books about NYC.

May-lee Chai is the author of the American Book Award–winning story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants and ten other books. He most recent book is Tomorrow in Shanghai and Other Stories. Her prize-winning short prose has been published widely, including in the New England Review, Missouri Review, Seventeen, The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. The recipient of an NEA fellowship in prose, Ms. Chai is an associate professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

What has been said about the work of Bushra Rehman

“I always love a good coming-of-age story but this one hit so close to home I could hardly believe it― a desi girl’s teenage rebellion/friendship/love story, all in my childhood home of Queens? Rehman’s writing is beautiful and compelling, and the main character Razia’s world is one I wanted to linger in.”

―Padma Lakshmi, New York Times bestselling author

“Rehman’s storytelling shares the elliptical grace of poetry. Her deeply sensitive protagonist, Razia, comes into sharp-focus like a shaken photograph, and Queens rears off the page in all its glorious vibrancy and complexity. I loved every moment I spent in Razia’s company. A stunning novel from a vital writer.”

―Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Orange World

“Enchanting, smart, and keenly observed, Bushra Rehman’s Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion shows us the wiry exhilaration of a girl becoming a woman she didn’t know she could be.”

―Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

“With a poet’s sensibility for language, Bushra Rehman has created a tender and multi-layered story of young Muslim women navigating a complicated and racialized world. This novel will break your heart open.”

―Daisy Hernández, author of The Kissing Bug

“An unforgettable novel of almost luminous vitality, rich with the episodic texture of life, heavy with love for its characters, shining with beauty and pain. Rehman’s prose is a knife, and I would let her cut out my heart again and again.”

―Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen

“Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a brave, beauty-filled book that takes you by the hand and into Razia’s world. This book made me nostalgic for Queens and reminded me to take care of the girl who still lives inside me. I love this lush, lovely book―it deepens our understanding of the human experience and is a fiercely beautiful and honest ode to all girls becoming women.”

―Ishle Yi Park, poet laureate of Queens and author of The Temperature of This Water and Angel & Hannah

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation