The Bruising of Qilwa is a standalone novella introducing the queernormative Persian-inspired world of Sassan.
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Included on: Library Journal's Best of 2022 SF/F, Tor.com's Best of 2022, and Locus Magazine's 2022 Recommended Reading List. Shortlisted for IAFA's Crawford Award and a finalist for the 2023 Locus Award.
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.
Library Journal, starred review
Naseem Jamnia's brilliant and insightful novella explores questions of identity and belonging in a nuanced medical mystery. The questions Jamnia raises 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.
Shelf Awareness, starred review
I loved this gorgeous book about blood magic, chosen family, and refugees in a hostile city. 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
The Unstoppable Trilogy
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
Birds, Beasts, and Men
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
Naseem Jamnia’s debut novella is a reminder of what you can truly do with the fantasy genre. There is a depth and richness to their world, characters, and magic. Beautiful and bittersweet, The Bruising of Qilwa is a story of immigration and borders, of identity and culture, of blood and oppression and family—written with an expert flourish of prose and eye for detail. The Bruising of Qilwa is a masterful debut, one that marks the continued ascendancy of Jamnia’s literary star.
Martin Cahill, Tor.com
The cover copy is deceptively simple. It makes The Bruising of Qilwa sound like an interesting yet recognizable second-world fantasy story. But there’s nothing simple about this novella. Naseem Jamnia has threaded themself–their identities, their experiences, their histories, their culture–into every layer of the narrative. Books like this are why I read almost exclusively science fiction, fantasy, and horror by authors with marginalized identities. I love seeing how we can take the familiar and reshape it into something wholly new just by imbuing it with our unique perspectives.
Alex Brown, Locus Magazine
In this intricately layered debut fantasy introducing a queernormative Persian-inspired world, 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