THE BLOG
03/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Muslim-American Novelist Examines Social Rift in the Aftermath of 9/11

Award-winning author, Shaila Abdullah's new novel Saffron Dreams offers readers a chance to explore the tragedy of 2001 from an uncommon viewpoint.

"I looked on as day after day the media tried, sentenced, and hung my faith," writes Shaila Abdullah in her brand new book, Saffron Dreams, being released online today. "I witnessed the lynching of a religion and race again and again. What proof did I have of the innocence of the rest of us?" I couldn't have expressed it better myself ! As Muslims, we've watched helplessly as all things Muslim and Islam have come under fire. The treatment meted to Barack Hussein Obama, for being born to a Muslim father, made us cringe. Shaila Abdullah awakens us to a story of a culture in shock. An award-winning Pakistani-American author, her writing focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani women and their often unconventional choices in life.

Set in New York, the novel leads the readers through a soul-searching and at times gut-wrenching journey of its protagonist. Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and writer has everything going for her -- a devoted husband and a much-anticipated child on the way. After her husband's death in the collapse of the World Trade Center, the discovery of his manuscript marks Arissa's reconnection to life. Her unborn son and the unfinished novel fuse in her mind into one life-defining project that becomes, at once, the struggle for her emotional survival and the redemption of her race.

The geopolitical concerns that have drawn Islam and the West into many conflicts since 2001 have also generated a thirst for multicultural literature -- fiction and nonfiction, with a Muslim angle. At a time when much of the world associates Islamic culture with oppression and terror, the new genre is tackling such universal themes as love, hope, and women's issues. In Saffron Dreams, Abdullah captures the essence of ordinary Muslims who create nothing newsworthy and power no conflicts to be of any value to the media.

Her first book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, is a collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society.The book received the Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction and the DIY Award among other accolades. Abdullah also received a Hobson Foundation grant for Saffron Dreams. She has published several short stories, articles, and essays for various publications, including Women's Own, She, Fashion Collection, Sulekha, and Dallas Child. She is a seasoned print, web, and multimedia designer as well. Abdullah lives with her family in Austin, Texas and is a member of the Texas Writers' League.

If you liked the movie Khuda Key Liye aka In the Name of God, you'll love this book!