Who is Riz Ahmed’s new wife Fatima Farheen Mirza?

Katie Strick
·4-min read
 (Fatima Farheen Mirza)
(Fatima Farheen Mirza)

Finally, we have a name.

The woman Riz Ahmed secretly married during lockdown? US writer Fatima Farheen Mirza, according to the actor’s interview on the Tonight Show.

Mirza is a successful novelist and has a CV to rival her new husband’s: her debut novel, A Place for Us, is a New York Times bestseller and the first to be published by a new imprint belonging to a very A-list actress.

From her Californian upbringing to a very poetic meet-cute, here is everything we know about the actor’s not-so mystery new wife.

Who is she?

Fatima Farheen Mirza, 30, was born in 1991 in California. Her parents are of Indian descent. Her mother grew up in Birmingham and her father was raised in Hyderabad in India.

After starting pre-med classes, Mirza switched to creative writing and went on to gain a place at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a teaching-writing fellow and whose graduates include Ann Patchett and Curtis Sittenfeld.

Her first novel, A Place for Us, is a New York Times bestseller and follows as an Indian wedding brings a family back together during which parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. Mirza says she first had the idea for the book when she was 18.


It was the first novel published by actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth - Mirza says she had just stepped off the New York subway when the actress called with the good news.

“The first thing I remember saying was: ‘Oh my God, I recognise your voice going back years’,” she told The Guardian in 2018, adding: "I ducked into a McDonalds to escape the noise, and while we spoke, people kept asking to share the table with me. Such a surreal moment.

“I was stunned during our conversation, because she spoke so thoughtfully about the very scenes that meant the most to me in the book and I felt so comforted that she understood what those scenes meant to the characters, to me.”

Mirza and Parker posed for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar after publication in 2018 and Parker has called the story “heartrending” and “timely”. Pulitzer-prizewinning novelist Paul Harding called it “a work of extraordinary and enthralling beauty”.

Mirza boxes in her spare time and has more than 9,000 followers on Instagram.

The meet-cute

Mirza’s love story with Ahmed is so poetic it might have been written by the author herself. The pair met in a coffee shop in New York, after both sitting at the same table where they’d turned up to write.

“We were both jostling over the same laptop plug points, like a very modern way of meeting,” Ahmed told host Jimmy Fallon on last week’s The Tonight Show. At the time, he’d been in New York preparing for his latest film, Sound Of Metal.

He continued: “We struck up a friendship and reconnected down the line. But it’s weirdly like one of the many things about preparing for this role that was so special, it just brought a lot of goodness into my life.

“Obviously I met Fatima for the first time and met so many people in the deaf community that have become friends. There’s just something about this whole period around this film that was kind of life changing.”

The clues

Mirza regularly posts on her public Instagram page - but were there clues?

In October, the novelist posted a picture of a football goalpost captioned: “We ran wearing baseball caps. Correction: you ran, I wandered. Passed a man with a parrot, bright blue, red plume. All the goals missing nets. A day like any other, but then: the parrot overhead, streak of blue, straight through.” Could “you” have been Ahmed?

Mirza has also shared pictures from coffee shops and several in and around New York (the exact cafe has not been confirmed) and both she and Ahmed shared reflective 2020 posts at the end of year.

“Mad year,” Ahmed wrote in an Instagram caption in December, while Mirza described it as “transformative” and “clarifying” in a post on New Year’s Day. Now we know one of the reasons why.

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