Books·Canada Reads 2020

Samra Habib

Samra Habib is a photographer and journalist based in Toronto.

Author of Canada Reads 2020 winner We Have Always Been Here, defended by Amanda Brugel

Samra Habib is the author of We Have Always Been Here. (CBC)

Amanda Brugel won Canada Reads 2020 defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib.

Canada Reads 2020 took place July 20-23.

About Samra Habib

Samra Habib is a journalist and photographer based in Toronto whose work has been featured in publications like the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post and Vanity Fair. Her first book, We Have Always Been Hereis a memoir about her childhood in Pakistan, arriving in Canada as a refugee and coming out as a proud queer Muslim woman. Habib is also the creator of the photo documentary project Just Me and Allah, in which she travelled the world to document the diverse stories of LGBTQIA Muslims.

CBC Books named Habib a writer to watch in 2019.

Why Samra Habib wrote We Have Always Been Here

"I saw a lot of benefit in being honest about my experience. I think there's a lack of queer Muslim narratives and one of the reasons could be that many fear persecution. It's not safe to be an openly queer Muslim person in a lot of different parts of the world, but I don't have to fear. I think I am relatively safe and I thought, 'OK, I can do this without risking a lot.'

It was while writing the book that I realized that, even when it came to embracing the fact that I'm queer, I was hiding for a long time.- Samra Habib

"It was while writing the book that I realized that, even when it came to embracing the fact that I'm queer, I was hiding for a long time. I was staying in these relationships with straight men or not sharing who I was with people who I was close to. I was still hiding, even though I didn't need to hide anymore. What I'm left with now is the question: What are some of the other things in my life I'm still hiding?"

Read more in Samra Habib's interview with CBC Books.

Interviews with Samra Habib

Amanda Brugel on the importance of championing intersectional stories

1 year ago
3:14
In the Canada Reads 2020 finale, The Handmaid’s Tale star and her fellow panellists debate the necessity for the stories told in their contending books. 3:14

On the last day of Canada Reads 2020, the finalists make a case for why their book is the one Canada should read

1 year ago
1:06
The 2020 finale saw Amanda Brugel and Kaniehtiio Horn make their final arguments for books We Have Always Been Here and Son of a Trickster. 1:06

Amanda Brugel and Kaniehtiio Horn highlight similarities between their books in addressing the complexities of family dynamics

1 year ago
2:29
On Day Three of Canada Reads 2020, the two panellists drew parallels between the books they are defending. 2:29

Amanda Brugel & Samra Habib on Canada Reads 2020

2 years ago
5:40
Actor Amanda Brugel will be defending Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here on Canada Reads 2020. Ahead of the debates, the first-time author spoke about why she wrote this very personal book. 5:40
Samra Habib talks to CBC Radio about her debut book We Have Always Been Here, which will be defended by Amanda Brugel on Canada Reads 2020. 5:34
Samra Habib talks to Shelagh Rogers about her memoir, We Have Always Been Here 12:13
Toronto photographer Samra Habib's Tumblr series Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project explores the beauty, and the complications, of being being both LGBT and Muslim. 13:14

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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