— As told by Amani Salahudeen
S.K. Ali is a New York Times Best-Selling author. She is best known for her books “The Proudest Blue,” “Saints & Misfits,” and “Love from A to Z.” Her books touch upon bullying, and sexual harassment in the Islamic Community. Sajida Ali is also a co-editor with Aisha Saeed for a new book coming out on May 5th, 2020, titled “Once Upon an Eid.”
From the very beginning, S.K. Ali exploded onto the literary scene with the flair and determination of a woman with much to teach us. After earning a degree in Creative Writing at York University in Canada, Ali released her first novel, “Saints and Misfits,” in 2017. It was instantly featured as a “Best Teen Novel” on various lists including Kirkus Review and Entertainment Weekly.
What sets S.K. Ali aside is how beautifully and authentically she writes about the Muslim experience, and this nuance has rightfully led to her being featured on many different media outlets, from NBC News to The Morning Show. Much to the delight of her fanbase — of which I consider myself an enthusiastic member — she’s currently working on the sequel to “Saints and Misfits.”
More so now than ever before, Muslim representation in young adult (YA) literature is so significant, simply because there are so many young Muslims, and yet we don’t have enough YA books with Muslims as protagonists living their everyday lives in an authentic way, through the lens of the Muslim experience.
That’s where S.K. Ali comes in. Her debut novel, “Saints and Misfits,” talked about first love, and the very heavy topic of sexual assault within the Muslim community. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I state that sexual assault is not a topic that’s discussed enough, and so, more often than not we have sexual predators getting away with their dark deeds, leaving their victims with no real outlet. Her second book, “Love from A to Z,” is more lighthearted in comparison, but it still deals with disability, grief, and fitting in.
Personally, S.K. Ali’s books are the kind of books I wish I had access to when I was in high school. I’m ecstatic that more Muslim writers are writing about the Muslim community, and the authentic Muslim experiences that few talk about. That type of representation feels good, because we need to have more Muslim protagonists that deal with heavy issues in a modern society. And as if her fiction wasn’t enough support, the incomparable S.K. Ali recently started a writing account called “Sajidah Writes” for those of us who would like a more intimate place to get to know her as a writer, and to write with her.
For her unyielding ability to feature Muslim protagonists in an authentic manner, S.K. Ali is certainly one to watch!