Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!
Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina’s Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.
Once Upon an Eid might be my only five star anthology. There wasn’t a single story within the collection that I didn’t enjoy, and a few even made me emotional. I didn’t realize when I picked this up that it was actually middle grade, not YA. Knowing that the stories are targeted towards that age group makes them that much more touching. There is a lot of wonderful messaging and I, as an adult, learned a lot about Eid and its traditions.
It is not often that I read a book where I feel this need to donate it to my library and/or purchase copies for young readers in my life. I know a few people, of all ages, who I will be gifting this book to this year.
Something I appreciated was how each of the stories has a completely different perspective and demonstrates a different aspect of the celebration of Eid. Everyone has their own traditions, so that was fun to dive into.
When reviewing an anthology collection, I normally choose a few favourite stories, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin with this one. I took something away from each of them and I had an array of emotional reactions throughout the collection. A few that I think will stay with me are “Kareem means ‘Generous'” by Asmaa Hussein (so sweet!), “Don’ut Break Tradition” by S.K. Ali (heartbreaking), and “Taste” by Hanna Alkaf (literal tears).
I have found so many new authors whose full novels I am interested in reading, and that is what makes anthologies so amazing.