WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE by Samra Habib (Viking) has been selected as finalist for the 2020 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction. The Publishing Triangle began giving awards for nonfiction in 1997. The Judy Grahn Award honors the American writer, cultural theorist and activist (b. 1940) best known for The Common Woman (1969) and Another Mother Tongue (rev. ed., 1984). It recognizes works that are by or about lesbians, bisexual women, and/or transwomen, or that have a significant influence upon the lives of queer women. This and other prizes from The Publishing Triangle, honoring the best LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published in 2019, will be presented on April 30, 2020, at the Tishman Auditorium at the New School’s University Center (63 Fifth Avenue in New York City) at 7 p.m. Co-hosted by the Creative Writing Program, the ceremony is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.

For a full list of the honorees, please visit: https://publishingtriangle.org/2020/03/finalists-awards/

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.

When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.

So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.Samra Habib is a writer, photographer, and activist. As a journalist she’s covered topics ranging from fashion trends and Muslim dating apps to the rise of Islamophobia in the US. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Advocate, and her photo project, “Just Me and Allah,” has been featured in Nylon, i-D, Vanity Fair Italia, Vice, and The Washington Post. She works with LGBTQ organizations internationally, raising awareness of issues that impact queer Muslims around the world. We Have Always Been Here is her first book. Samra is represented by Samantha Haywood.