Monster Child

Monster Child

Rahela Nayebzadah
  • $20.00

MAY 2021
188 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-30-5

**Finalist for the 2022 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize**
**Finalist for the 2022 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize**

In a powerful debut novel author Rahela Nayebzadah introduces three unforgettable characters, Beh, Shabnam and Alif. In a world swirling with secrets, racism and a touch of magic we watch through the eyes of these three children as Nayebzadah's family of Afghan immigrants try to find their way in an often uncaring society. But as a sexual assault on thirteen-year-old Beh unleashes the past and destroys the family the reader is left wondering who is the monster child? Is it Beh, who says she is called a disease? Is it Shabnam, who cries tears of blood? Is it Alif, who in the end declares "We are a family of monsters"? Or are the monsters all around us?

Reviews | Interviews | Articles | Excerpt | About the Author

Advance Praise

“With irreverence, depth and a hint of magic, Nayebzadah introduces us to three Afghani Canadian teens whose family is on the brink of falling apart. There is violence and tragedy, but also humour and love. Monster Child is original and beautifully written, with a sense of wonder on every page. You have never read a story quite like this.”
– Farzana Doctor, author of Seven and Six Metres of Pavement


USEREVIEW 062: A Bloodstory (Emily Woodworth, Carousel, 26/01/2022)
"In Monster Child, Nayebzadah has struck a careful balance between bloodletting and bloodbath. With vividly drawn characters, richly explored culture and precise renderings of the spaces these characters inhabit – both internal and external – Monster Child breathes."

This maelstrom of emotions (Theo Dombrowski, The Ormsby Review, 12/12/2021)
“[Monster Child] packs a big narrative wallop. To some extent it is a novel about the Afghan immigrant experience in Canada.”

Anuja Varghese Reviews Rahela Nayebzadah’s Monster Child (Anuja Varghese, Hamilton Review of Books, 30/11/2021)
"It is a book that examines bonds of blood and dares readers to ask which is the greater foe — the monsters in the world around us, or the monsters lurking within."

ALU Summer Book Club: Monster Child Staff Discussion (All Lit Up, 11/08/2021)
"We got our Zoom book club on to talk about all the ways in which we loved this book: it was haunting, immersive, magical, layered."

Monster Child (SUBAKKA BOOKSTUFF, 03/08/2021)
"Throughout the book, Nayebzadah includes Afghani culture, a bit of magical realism, family secrets, and the sad reality of racism to make this story truly compelling."

Monster Child By Rahela Nayebzadah (Hollay Ghadery, The Miramichi Reader, 29/07/2021)
"Monster Child is a brief, intense attack of a novel capable of leaving one breathless and uncomfortably provoked – and this isn’t a bad thing. Discomfort challenges you. It can change you."

Monster Child by Rahela Nayebzadah (Review) (Chantale, Canadian Book Addict, 26/07/2021)
"This is the most powerful and emotional book I have ever read in my life."

“Monster Child” by Rahela Nayebzadah (Susan Blumberg-Kason, Asian Review of Books, 17/06/2021)
"Nayebzadah packs a complicated family history into this short novel, rife with trauma [...] from the beginning until the end."


12 or 20 (second series) questions with Rahela Nayebzadah (rob mclennan, rob mclennan's blog, 18/09/2022)
"I want my writing to disrupt narrowness and create openness, conversation, and an awareness of the ways our experiences are shared rather than separate."

Monster Child (The Artisanal Writer, 01/06/2022)
"From the beginning, I was more interested in allowing the readers to decide who the real monster child might be, rather than pointing them to the real monster."

An interview with Rahela Nayebzadah, author of Monster Child. (Susan Sanford Blades, Girls to the Front, June 2022)
"Blood, especially when associated with women’s bodies, is seen as excess. Shabnam is powerful and blood in Monster Child is not excess."

S4 Episode 2: Rahela Nayebzadah talks about how Monster Child was inspired by The Jade Peony (Megan Cole, Writing the Coast: BC & Yukon Book Prizes podcast, 28/05/2022)
Host Megan Cole talks to Rahela Nayebzadah about how reading Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony helped her write her book and the symbolism of blood.

11 Questions With Rahela Nayebzadah (Author, Monster Child) (Daman, 11 Questions, 01/12/2021)
Daman from 11 Questions interviews Rahela.

What is the experience of growing-up as an Afghan-Canadian? Rahela Nayebzadah, novelist (Misaq Kazimi, OneRising, 07/11/2021)
See Rahela talk about her life as an Afghan-Canadian in this interview by Emmy-winning filmmaker Misaq Kazimi.

Q&A with Rahela Nayebzadah: Author of Monster Child and Surrey teacher (Rahela Nayebzadah, BC Teachers Federation, 04/11/2021)
"Afghan voices are more crucial than ever. Our voices and stories need to be heard."

Not Another Afghan Immigrant Story (Rahela Nayebzadah, 49th Shelf, 14/10/2021)
Rahela curates this recommended reading list.

ALU Summer Book Club: Interview with Rahela Nayebzadah (All Lit Up, 18/08/2021)
"Beh is obnoxious, fearless, and a drama queen. Yet, despite her unpleasant character traits, she is endearing. Alif, on the other hand, is fragile and broken. I see myself in both characters."

E246 with RAHELA NAYEBZADAH (Jamie Tennant, Get Lit, 05/08/2021)
Jamie Tennant and Rahela discuss her powerful novel.

Rahela Nayebzadah, Author of the Powerful New Novel Monster Child, on Being Nicknamed "Revenge", Dream Trips, & Spike Lee (Open Book, 15/06/2021)
Rahela tells Open Book about the narrow-minded advice she's been given about her name, the filmmaker whose writing always inspires her and the impressive nickname she earned as a child.


8 Books on Immigration, Refuge and Diaspora (Danny Ramadan, 49th Shelf, 30/05/2024)
Monster Child is included in this recommended reading list from Danny Ramadan.

Literary Awards 2022: A Coast-to-Coast Roundup (All Lit Up, 08/06/2022)
Rahela's novel is on this list of independently published winners and nominees from literary awards all across Canada!

Novels by Randy Boyagoda and Aimee Wall among works shortlisted for 2022 ReLit Awards (CBC Books, 16/05/2022)
A write-up about the Re-Lit Awards shortlist.

To my mother: I’m sorry for the silence (Rahela Nayebzadah, the Globe and Mail, 06/05/2022)
A beautiful piece from Rahela Nayebzadah in the Globe & Mail today, just in time for Mother's Day.

ALU Summer Book Club: Follow-Up Reads After Monster Child (25/08/2021)
All Lit Up compiled a few follow-up recommendations for after you finish reading Monster Child.

9 Books by Women from Afghanistan to Read Right Now (Carolina Ciucci, Book Riot, 23/08/2021)
Rahela's novel makes this list of 9 Books by Women from Afghanistan to Read Right Now.

I may never hear my cousin’s voice again. Will you speak for him and my family in Afghanistan? (Rahela Nayebzadah, the Globe and Mail, 18/08/2021)
Rahela has written a vital personal essay for the Globe and Mail about her family in Afghanistan.

ALU Summer Book Club: Intro to Monster Child (Paul Vermeersch, All Lit Up, 04/08/2021)
"Rahela Nayebzadah's Monster Child sparked us from its very first pages."

ALU Summer Book Club: 2021 Edition (All Lit Up, 05/07/2021)
Monster Child is August's pick for the All Lit Up Summer Book Club!

First Fiction Friday: Monster Child (All Lit Up, 14/05/2021)
"Rahela Nayebzadah's Monster Child is not your typical immigrant story. Through the eyes of three Afghan children, an uncaring world, filled with racism, family secrets and magic unfolds. Readers must squint to see clearly through shape-shifting forms of evil to determine who truly is the Monster Child."

What We're Reading: Editors' Picks, Spring 2021 (Hamilton Review of Books, 12/02/2021)
Rahela's novel makes the HRB's list of most anticipated spring titles!

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview (49th Shelf, 07/01/2021)
Rahela's novel is one of 49th Shelf's most anticipated!

Unleashing tragedy and mayhem (BC Booklook, 06/11/2020)
An advance notice for Rahela Nayebzadah's debut novel Monster Child.


Click here to read an excerpt of Monster Child.

About the Author

A mother of two, Rahela Nayebzadah holds a PhD in the Faculty of Education from the University of British Columbia. Currently, she is a schoolteacher. Her autobiographical novel, Jeegareh Ma (2012), was based on her family's migration to Canada from Afghanistan.

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