The much-loved winner of the sixth season of “The Great British Bake Off” Nadiya Hussain is releasing her first fiction novel later this month. The novel is titled “The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters,” and explores life as a second generation Bangladeshi in the U.K. through the trials and tribulations the Amir family face. Faith and identity lend themselves as main themes of the novel, which see four strong Muslim women as main characters.
Representation is needed in media — and Hussain, a visible hijabi woman, has often spoken of the many facets of her identity. In an interview with the BBC regarding her position on their 100 people of 2016 list, she said, “Yes, I am Muslim, I’m Bangladeshi and I’m British — and I’m proud of all those things.”
“I grew up in a family of very strong women… it was really nice to write about strong, defiant women who have a voice, but kind of almost don’t have a voice. And that’s something I can relate to. It’s about an immigrant family.”
Speaking on the need for strong, diverse women in literature, Hussain said she looked to her own family and her upbringing for inspiration. “What I realized is that I really enjoy writing about strong women. I grew up in a family of very strong women… it was really nice to write about strong, defiant women who have a voice, but kind of almost don’t have a voice. And that’s something I can relate to. It’s about an immigrant family – first-generation Bangladeshis — very similar to me,” she said.
As is often the case, fame and visibility can also spark negativity. For Hussain, this came in the form of Islamophobia. After winning “The Great British Bake Off,” she needed a police officer to check her house alongside the numerous online threats. When speaking of this experience, Hussain said, “That did scare me, but I soon learned that there are keyboard warriors out there who will just sit there at 2 o’clock in the morning and say things that they can’t say to your face, because I can almost guarantee that if I met those people today they would not be able to say those things to me.”
Hussain has used her baking fame and branched out, becoming a household name who continues to use her voice to spread positivity and a message of both love and acceptance.
‘The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters’ is out Jan. 12 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon and all other book retailers.