Bushra Rehman

Bushra Rehman grew up in Corona, Queens but her mother says she was born in an ambulance flying through the streets of Brooklyn. Her father is not so sure about this story, but it would explain a few things.

A key figure in the South Asian American literary and Women of Color feminist circle, Bushra Rehman is a writer and speaker of tremendous power. Her connection with audiences comes from years of being on the road, sharing her particular brand of storytelling, political writing, and poetry.

As a young woman, Rehman coedited the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, a seminal work on race and American feminism. Colonize This! has been described by Ms. Magazine as one of the “100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time,” by Vibe magazine as “13 Books Every Mujerista & Womanist Should Read” and on Buzzfeed as one of 19 Books “On Intersectionality That Taylor Swift Should Read.” In 2019, Rehman and her coeditor Daisy Hernández are releasing an updated edition of Colonize This! for our current political moment.

Inspired by the writers in Colonize This! Rehman’s wrote her autobiographical novel Corona, a dark comedy about Razia Mirza, a young Pakistani woman growing up in a tight-knit Muslim community in Corona, Queens. Corona was noted by Poets & Writers as one of the year’s works of “Best Debut Fiction” and featured in the LA Review of Books as a work of ground-breaking South Asian American Literature. Novelist Karen Russell wrote: “I fell head over heels for Corona… Rehman’s hot-blooded, ferociously funny, and deeply sensitive protagonist …is about to gleefully dynamite every narrow stereotype you might have about a young Pakistani woman.” Corona has become a cult classic and is taught in Asian-American studies programs around the country.

Rehman’s latest work is a collection of poems, Marianna’s Beauty Salon. Poet Kamilah Aisha Moon described Marianna’s as a remarkable work in which a “daughter-witness records the lifelong trades and private tolls of immigration: a promise passed down to children who sing the songs of the new land.”  Joseph Legaspi, founder of the influential arts organization Kundiman, described Marianna’s as a “love poem for Muslim girls, Queens, and immigrants making sense of their foreign home–and surviving.”

Rehman is currently working on her first Young Adult novel, Corona: Stories of a Queens Girlhood, which is forthcoming from Tor Books, an imprint of Macmillan. This novel centers on female friendship and narrates the further adventures of Razia Mirza and her best friend, Taslima, a fellow Pakistani Muslim teenager growing up in New York City.

Rehman has received awards and residencies from the Jerome Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, Cave Canem, Center for Book Arts, Cullman Center for Teachers, Kundiman, Hedgebrook, Soul Mountain Retreat, Norcroft, Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation and Headlands Center for the Arts. She has served as a teaching artist for Kundiman, Poet’s House, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Urban Word NYC, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.