Samra Habib’s debut memoir, We Have Always Been Here, documents her journey to Canada as a Pakistani refugee and growing up as a queer Muslim in Toronto. This year, it won a Lambda Literary Award as well as CBC’s Canada Reads, the broadcaster’s annual battle of the books. Habib previously explored these themes through her hugely popular photography project, “Just Me and Allah,” which documented queer Muslims in North America and Europe.
What she’s proudest of this year
“It’s been an intense year—the highs have been really high, the lows have been . . . low.[When thinking about my] highlight of the year, the most obvious things are winning a Lambda award and Canada Reads, or being on [multiple] bestsellers lists. But it’s [actually] that I’m more connected to my purpose in life. I turned 40 this year, and it was a good time to take stock. I want to put more energy into things that have really worked, whether that’s cultivating meaningful connections that fuel me or connecting more with my family. I have lovely nieces and a nephew who really need me—those kinds of relationships mean a lot. I’m also working on my first fiction book. I’m writing about why we choose the kind of partners that we do, and so much of it is informed by my experiences as a racialized person who has a lot of trauma. Through fiction and writing about love, I can offer this lens that I haven’t seen in many other books and hopefully widen the perspective of what love can look like.”