Why Are Men Speaking for Muslim Women in Literature?

Shereen Malherbe

What is your favorite book? You might be like me and have too many to mention. Of those books, which characters are your favorite? Do they represent you?

The answer to this, in the majority of western published literature is probably no. If you are represented, have another look at the author — is the author part of your demographic?

As one example, I think of Khaled Hosseini and his bestseller, “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” His book centers around two Muslim women and is written by a man.

Should that matter? I think it does.

We need to consider why men are allowed to speak for us. This is not a critique of Hosseini — it is a critique about how others seem to be filling in the literary gaps to narrate our stories. There are increasing opportunities to be heard through various online platforms that capture our…

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Published by Shereen Malherbe

Shereen Malherbe is a writer & author. Her novel, Jasmine Falling has been voted as one of the top 20 Best Books by Muslim women. Her second contemporary fiction novel, The Tower, was published by Beacon Books on April 2019. Her first children's book, The Girl Who Slept Under The Moon is coming soon.

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