The debut novel of Samira Ahmed, Love, Hate & Other Filters is about Maya Aziz, a normal teenager in America who dreams of kissing boys and becoming a film maker in New York. Caught between parental expectations, as well as between two guys – one she SHOULD like and one that she DOES like, things take a drastic turn and everything changes because of a suicide bomber, who shares her last name, attacked a city hundreds of miles away from her home.
This novel has the ingredients of 50% love, 30% hatred, and 20% prejudice. Samira Ahmed, who was born in Mumbai, India, and up in Illinois, USA, has drawn from some of her experiences post 9/11, where she was subjected to hatred and racism. She said, “I learnt a lot of things that day; one of them was that the visceral rage of bigots mean they are immune to basic facts or civility. Though it was decades ago, that scene is perfectly etched in my memory – a moment of childhood innocence lost, shattered by ignorance and hatred. I knew then that I would forever be confronted by a choice: to cower or to speak.”
This novel celebrates the power of making personal choices in a world that is determined to put tags on you and stereotype you. This novel is of hope and perseverance, and not letting anyone decide where you belong. Samira said, “ For those who bear the brunt of hate because of the colour of your skin or the sound of your name, for those who are spat upon, for those who are told to ‘go home,’ when you are home; you are known. You are loved. Let your light shine. I wrote this book for you.”