Episode 15: Getting Real: Writing Black American Muslim Life in the Nation and Sunni Tradition
In this episode of On The Square, Sapelo Square’s Senior Editor Ambata Kazi talks with Aaliyah Bilal, author of the new book, Temple Folk, a collection of short stories portraying the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America.
Aaliyah shares her literary influences and how her interests in American Muslim history, especially the history of the Nation of Islam and its role in shaping the nation, inspired her to write the stories that comprise her collection. Ambata and Aaliyah discuss the challenges of being a Muslim writer: writing about difficult or taboo subjects, without fear or a need for approval, and away from the traps of the outside gaze. Aaliyah also shares advice for emerging writers on how to nurture their own unique voices and perspectives and write with confidence.
Aaliyah Bilal was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She has degrees from Oberlin College and the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. Her stories and essays have been published with The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus and The Chicago Quarterly Review. Temple Folk is her first book. Her website is www.aaliyahbilal.com.