Zahir Janmohamed is a Rackham Merit Fellow at the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan, where he is pursuing an MFA in fiction. He is also a journalism mentor at WDET and Feet in 2 Worlds, as well as the co-founder of the James Beard nominated podcast Racist Sandwich.
In 2019, he was awarded the Hopwood Graduate Nonfiction Prize, as well as The Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize in Fiction and The John Wagner Prize.
He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, where he was the inaugural recipient of the Anne Cox Chambers fellowship for long-form journalism, as well as from the Mesa Refuge, the Djerassi Resident Arts Program, the Norman Mailer Center, and the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. He is a three-time alumnus of the VONA workshop for writers of color, a 2017 fiction fellow at Kundiman, a 2017 New Voices Scholar, and the recipient of the inaugural Katherine Bakeless Fiction Scholarship at Bread Loaf.
His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Guernica, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, CNN, NPR, The Boston Review, The Guardian, McSweeney's, Scroll India, The Economic Times and many other publications.
His media appearances include: NPR, CNN, BBC, CBC, Al Jazeera, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Fox News, Live Wire, The Dear Sugar Podcast, and others.
In May 2016, while living in Portland, Oregon, he co-founded Racist Sandwich, a podcast that explores the intersection between food, race, gender, and class. The podcast was nominated by Saveur magazine and by the International Association of Culinary Professionals as one of the best food shows of 2017.
He has taught non-fiction writing at The Attic Institute in Portland, where he was an adjunct teaching fellow, and at UC Berkeley, where he was a Student Teacher Poet under the direction of the late June Jordan.
Aside from his writing career, he has spent over a decade working in politics. From 2006 to 2009, he worked as the Advocacy Director for Amnesty International where he managed the organization’s lobbying, public outreach, and media work on the Middle East and North Africa. While there, he briefed senior officials at the White House and the State Department and authored numerous Congressional resolutions. In 2009, he testified before the US Congress about human rights abuses in the UAE. After Amnesty International, Janmohamed served as a senior foreign policy aide to Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN). During his time in Portland, he worked as the policy director for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) where he successfully lobbied the Oregon State Legislature to implement K-12 ethnic studies curriculum standards, making Oregon the first state in the US to do so.