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Pakistani-American superstar and young adult author Sabaa Tahir, known for her internationally bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy quartet, will publish a standalone in 2022, her publisher revealed exclusively to Oprah Daily.
All My Rage will be published by Razorbill, a young adult books division of Penguin Random House. Fifteen years in the making, the intergenerational epic novel draws inspiration from Tahir’s own experience growing up in her family’s 18-room motel in California’s Mojave Desert. Executive editor Ruta Rimas acquired the book from ICM agent Alexandra Machinist. All My Rage will be adapted for television by PICTURESTART, with Tahir and Amer Saleem writing the script.
Tahir told Oprah Daily that like An Ember in the Ashes, “All My Rage is inspired by real world issues, and is a novel with multiple points of view. But,” she says, “while my previous books were fantasy, this one is contemporary, and digs into issues like identity, class and addiction. But readers can still expect romance, humor, and…me being very mean to my characters.”
In December of 2020 Tahir bid farewell to Laia, Elias, and Helene, the lead characters in the four books that comprise An Ember in the Ashes, which, Tahir told us, “felt like having a part of me ripped away. They’d been living in my head for 13 years. I’d gotten pretty attached.”
That series, which tackles themes of racial oppression and rebellion set in a world very much like Ancient Rome, debuted in 2015 to widespread critical acclaim, and amassed millions of loyal fans. The books were named to numerous best book of the year lists and An Ember in the Ashes was named one of TIME’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. An Ember in the Ashes also broke barriers, as the first book by a Pakistani-American author to land on the New York Times YA bestsellers list. It has since been translated into over 35 languages.
What was it like growing up in a motel in the middle of the desert and why set a novel there, we asked Tahir. She says: “I think I could write a thousand books about the motel and never quite capture what it was like to grow up there. The Mojave is a place of extremes. Eerie desolation and tender life. Jaw-dropping beauty and soul-shrinking ugliness. Living at the motel was like that, too. I learned more about humanity during my childhood at the motel than I have in all the years since.”
The main characters in All My Rage are described by Tahir as “best friends and, on the surface, outcasts.” They are Muslim in a town where there are few other Muslims and are first generation immigrants. Tahir sums it up this way: “They both understand violence the way kids shouldn’t have to. They both have a fundamental mistrust of the world, and that draws them to each other. And they both hold onto hope, even when they are terrified to do so.”
Exploring addiction in the novel was important to Tahir for very personal reasons. She says that, "in 2017, someone in my life overdosed and passed away. I’d had friends and family battle addiction before. But this person was very young. It was terrible. I could not stop thinking about about the family—about the shame and silence surrounding the death." Then, Tahir says, she started thinking more deeply about addiction's connection to trauma and silence. "I rewrote All My Rage over the course of about 9 months to encompass that experience."
The novel has been Tahir’s passion project for more than a decade, picking up the manuscript and putting it down over and over again, at times scrapping entire chapters when they didn’t feel right. But, she says, “Many authors talk about ‘the book of my heart’. I tore this book from my heart. It's a story that demanded to be told, a love letter to the desert and rock music and tiny motels and the kinds of friendships that save your life.”
All My Rage will release in bookstores and online retailers in March 2022.
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