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Zara Raheem Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Marriage Clock (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Retreat (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Polychrome Ink Volume III(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Zara Raheem is a contemporary romance and general fiction novelist best known for her debut novel “The Marriage Clock.”

Raheem went to the Long Beach-based California State University where she got her master of fine arts in creative writing. She was on the list of Harriet Williams Emerging Writers in 2019 and won the James I. Murashige Jr. Memorial Award.
Her debut novel had the honor of being named a must-read book of the summer by Book Riot, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, and POPSUGAR among many other prestigious places. The work has also been translated into Portuguese and Italian
She published a second novel titled “The Retreat” in 2023 and the novel went on to become just as popular as her debut.
Zara currently makes her home in Southern California where she teaches creative writing and English.

When Zara Raheem was in the second grade, she came across “Harriet the Spy,” a novel that she developed an obsession with.

She loved the character of Harriet but also the adolescent sleuthing world which to her eight-year-old self sounded so exhilarating, dangerous, and exciting.

Raheem began walking around with a notebook that she used to jot down ideas inspired by what she saw happening in the neighborhood. However, there was hardly anything happening, given that she lived in a small midwestern town.
Since that time, she has been drawn to writing in one way or another through short stories, poetry, journaling, and novels. While she has now become a critically acclaimed author, it was never easy getting to where she is.

Growing up, there was a dearth of South Asian American novelists and hence she assumed that writing was not for someone like her. Even though writing was something that she enjoyed, she doubted her abilities given the lack of representation.
Nonetheless, she still felt an innate desire to write. In adulthood, she decided that she was going to challenge her belief and got her MFA and ultimately a book deal.
These later achievements gave her a sense of validation and renewed confidence that she was meant to be a writer.

Zara Raheem had the idea for her debut while she was being taken through the arranged marriage process.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Raheem said that she felt that while the idea of arranged marriages has been explored in many movies and TV shows, there is hardly any from a female South Asian perspective.
As such, she intended to pen a story that would not only capture the frustrations and challenges that so many South Asians face in the quest for love.

She also needed to write a story that would highlight the cultural and social pressures placed on Asian women about children and marriage. These usually influence female choices and also impact their view of the self.
While she never sat down and made a conscious decision to pen women’s fiction, she has always had an interest in telling stories of women who showcase their strength despite cultural and societal expectations.
Zara loves to pen stories about many issues that are usually never talked about in communities from South Asia.

As such, she explores these ideas since by doing so she has a way to connect with other women who may be going through a very similar journey to what she was at that time.

Zara Raheem’s novel “The Marriage Clock” is a smart, funny, and fresh debut. The lead is a young Muslim American woman who has three months to bring home a suitable husband or her Indian parents will proceed to find one for her.
It is a work with a universal theme that just about everyone can relate to in matters of love and romance. Leila Abid’s parents believe that finding a husband in their Indian Asian Muslim American community is too easy.
But Leila does not believe in an arranged marriage as it is antithetical to her dream of a Bollywood romance.

She had watched too many movies and was convinced that before marriage, there needs to be true love and no one is going to convince her otherwise.

She had planned to find a husband when the time was right, but she is getting nervous as she just turned 26 and has been throwing her parents into a massive panic as aunties have started talking.
She has also begun wondering if maybe her standards are too high.

Leila tells her parents that if she fails to find a husband after three months they will be free to arrange one for her. She still clings to her Western ideals about love but now has to satisfy her parents’ expectations.
It is not long before she sees the deadline looming but she has not achieved any success and she fears for what might happen.

In “The Retreat” by Zara Raheem, we are introduced to Nadia Abbasi.

She suddenly experiences some unexpected complications in an attempt to save her marriage and things only seem to be getting worse.

Everything started with the gift of a Roomba vacuum cleaner which was the beginning of her coming to the light. While cleaning her husband’s office, she found some questionable photographs, and suddenly everything started to make sense.
She now understands the new clothes, the sudden interest in fitness, and late-night texting and she is certain that Aman the thoughtful and kind man she married is having an affair.
She will do anything to understand how everything had gone so wrong and hence she enlists the help of her estranged sister Zeba who she has not seen for at least a year.
As they try to reconcile, Nadia soon realizes that it is not only her relationship with Aman that will need to be repaired.

Nevertheless, she has a simple plan of confronting the woman who has been having an affair with her husband and trying to convince her to leave him alone.
Her quest takes her from Aman’s latest hangout at the yoga studio to the Santa Monica mountains where he is attending a three-day wellness retreat.

She soon discovers a lot more than she expected about her husband, herself, and the nature of love.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Zara Raheem

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