With its queer-normative world, Naseem Jamnia’s beautiful debut novella THE BRUISING OF QILWA delivers a welcome break from standard fantasy trends and tropes

Though still a month from publication, Samuel R. Delany Fellowship recipient Naseem Jamnia’s unforgettable THE BRUISING OF QILWA draws praise from Danielle Ballantyne at Foreword, Every Book a Doorway, The Girl Who Reads, and Word Wonders.

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Cover for THE BRUISING OF QILWA by Naseem Jamnia
Cover by Elizabeth Story

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. Post-imperialism, colonization, and immigration are key elements of the text, and nuanced questions arise as power structures topple and invert. Within this shifting landscape of power, there are no easy answers, and characters are often led to the question of how many wrongs can still lead to a right.

Jamnia’s queer-normative world is a welcome break from fantasy trends and tropes: people introduce themselves with pronouns without fanfare, and homophobia and transphobia as forms of oppression do not factor in.

Cracking the door to a fresh fantasy world, THE BRUISING OF QILWA makes an unforgettable first impression.


THE BRUISING OF QILWA is a beautiful, slow-paced novella with an intricate setting and big found-family vibes – to say nothing of it being casually and frankly queer. The Persian-inspired, queernorm setting is a wonderful change from the white cishet quasi-Medieval Europe aesthetic we see so often in Western fantasy, and Jamnia’s prose is lovely and descriptive, making that setting come alive for us in these pages.

Every Book a Doorway

A book that covers a great deal in a small amount of space! Perfect for lovers of found fantasy, blood magic, and migration.

The Girl Who Reads

I finished this one in the last hours of the 30th and I really enjoyed it. I loved the mystery, some of the medical aspects, and the magic system, as well as the themes explored.

Word Wonders