Available now in paperback and ebook in World English territories, and upcoming in audio (Tantor Audio)
The delicately interwoven complexity of the story, along with the loving portrait of Firuz and their found family, makes Jamnia’s fantasy puzzler a delight to read. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the Dead.
Naseem Jamnia's brilliant and insightful novella explores questions of identity and belonging in a nuanced medical mystery. The questions Jamnia raises (and the answers they seem to hint at) about blood family and chosen family, identity and self-expression, gender and immigration and bigotry are ones as applicable to this world as to the incredibly imagined one that unfolds across the pages of The Bruising of Qilwa.
I loved this gorgeous book about blood magic, chosen family, and refugees in a hostile city. Naseem Jamnia has created a rich, complex world in a very short space. The Bruising of Qilwa left me wanting way more of this world and its magical systems—but above all, I wanted to spend way more time with these amazing characters. You should definitely savor this one.
Charlie Jane Anders
All The Birds in the Sky
Victories Greater Than Death
Even Greater Mistakes
The Bruising of Qilwa transports you to a lushly-described, beautifully imagined world where magic and medicine meet. Heartfelt relationships temper the grim reality of a flawed world with a creeping, strange new disease. A delightful read.
The Tensorate Series
The Genesis of Misery
A fascinating medical mystery in a rich, complex world I didn’t want to leave.
The Daevabad Trilogy
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi
With prose that reads like lush poetry, The Bruising of Qilwa builds an intricate world full of history, magic, and life.
Zabé (Z.R.) Ellor
I adored this city, with its vibrant history and super-fresh magic system, but I loved these astonishing complex vivid characters even more. A fun and fast-paced ride that keeps you guessing all the way (and, yeah, it’s tough to grapple with the ugly legacies of empire and oppression and still have fun, but Jamnia pulls it off).
Sam J. Miller
The Blade Between
Birds, Beasts, and Men
Naseem Jamnia is a bold, visionary writer, and The Bruising of Qilwa makes for a superb introduction to their nuanced and evocative Persian-inspired fantasy. The good news is that there are many more brilliant novels already in this writer’s literary quiver. Get ready for them; they’re coming! Jamnia is fierce and dangerous—in all the best ways.
David Anthony Durham
The Acacia Trilogy
Pride of Carthage
Naseem Jamnia has crafted an intricately layered fantasy [and] a wonderful, noble character who is driven to act for the greater good and is willing to grapple with issues of colonization, including those of their homeland. The world of Qilwa is rich and intriguing The Bruising of Qilwa is a deeply fascinating fantasy that reckons with very real geopolitical issues Highly recommended.
Susan Azim Boyer
Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win
An incredible and lush world featuring a non-binary refugee, blood magic, and a plague that seeps within a city. Naseem Jamnia weaves an exquisite tale within a short span of pages. From protecting found and blood family, to mystery, to trauma and colonization, this Persian-inspired fantasy is a must-read. The afterword perfectly wraps up the story.
A Song of Silver and Gold
An incredibly timely story, told by a deft hand that manages to weave a fascinating magic system together with all-too-real issues into something truly, wonderfully, not seen before. Equal parts slice of life, fantasy tale, medical drama and mystery blend into a book not soon to be forgotten, one that should be on everyone’s TBR!
Senior Barnes & Noble Bookseller
When people from marginalized groups talk about creating stories based on their lived experience, this is what they mean. Jamnia brings all the various intersections of their life into THE BRUISING OF QILWA and the book is so much more significant because of it. This story has set the bar for fantasy fiction so high now. Who’s going to meet it?
Jamnia’s debut is a rousing, Persian-inspired fantasy that investigates otherness, oppression, and generational trauma but is powered forward by a suspenseful, bloody, medical-mystery plot. Readers of queer fantasy will fall hard for the rich characters, particularly our aromantic, asexual, nonbinary protagonist. The frank narrative tone and short page count paired with an intricately built world is a winning combination.
Influenced by Persian culture, The Bruising of Qilwa is a stunning fantasy novella that confronts questions of belonging: to a culture, a family, and to yourself. The worldbuilding is immersive, with gripping descriptions of the sights and sounds of Qilwa jumping from the page. But the fantasy setting is not so impenetrable as to obscure the novel’s real-world themes. Jamnia’s queer-normative world is a welcome break from fantasy trends and tropes. Cracking the door to a fresh fantasy world, The Bruising of Qilwa makes an unforgettable first impression.
[A] short, propulsive tale that admirably centers a strong queer protagonist and offers thought-provoking commentary on the struggles of refugees. There’s plenty to enjoy for readers of LGBTQ fantasy.
In this intricately layered debut fantasy, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease causing political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family.
Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic.
But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly performed blood magic. In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice, untangle sociopolitical constraints, and find a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.
Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.
Content Notes and Representation
I believe it's important to be both upfront and specific about both of these things, so here is what you can expect from The Bruising of Qilwa. Some of these draw upon my own experiences.
© 2022, Naseem Jamnia
Photos of Naseem by Jennie Kaplan, 2018, and Jeramie Lu, 2022