Novel about Immigrant Experience in Wake of 9/11 Mirrors Struggle of Muslims in America

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When her husband dies in the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack, Pakistani immigrant Arissa Illahi faces an American society suspicious of Muslims while she grieves for her husband and creates a new life for herself and her child with disabilities.

Learn what life was like for a Muslim woman in the United States following the 9/11 Terrorist Attack in award-winning author, Shaila Abdullah's new novel "Saffron Dreams" (ISBN 9781932690736, Modern History Press, 2009).

On September 11, 2001, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center killed thousands of people. Among them was Pakistani Faisan Illahi. His wife, Arissa was left behind to care on her own for their as yet unborn son. In a world where Americans are suspicious of Muslims, Arissa must deal with grief and discrimination. In the process, she redefines who she is and builds a new life for herself and her son.

"Saffron Dreams" captures a pivotal time in American history and details the immigrant experience of its main character; the novel is as American a story as possible. Arissa is faced with discrimination, just like the immigrants who came to the United States before her. The novel questions what it means to be American, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a Muslim, in a post-9/11 society. Arissa's struggles may be unique to her, but everyone who has faced challenges will appreciate her efforts, her failures, and her courage to carry on.

As a single parent, Arissa builds her relationships and support system, particularly with her in-laws. She learns to end or find places for dysfunctional relationships, including with her mother, and her heart awakens to love for her son stricken with a disability, the symbol of her eternal bond to her husband. Arissa even opens her heart to romantic relationships as she becomes a new woman, no longer afraid to shed her traditional Muslim garb, yet seeking a comfortable compromise between her Pakistani culture and her newfound freedom in the United States at a time when Muslims are feared and discriminated against.

"Saffron Dreams" is one of those rare novels that lives on in the reader's mind long after the book is read. Shaila Abdullah is a master at creating complex situations and characters to enhance her themes of tolerance and hope. The novel is a memorial to the victims of 9/11, a source of strength for the survivors, a source of understanding for anyone trying to make sense out of the conflict between the Western and Muslim worlds in the twenty-first century. It is a tale of the times that reflects the hopes and dreams for the future.

About the Author
Noted as "Word Artist" by critics, Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. Her creative work focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani women and their often unconventional choices in life. Her debut 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 collection won the Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction and the DIY Festival Award. The Hobson Foundation awarded Abdullah a grant to write "Saffron Dreams," which explores the tragedy of 9/11 from the perspective of a Muslim widow. In addition, Abdullah has published several short stories, articles, and essays in publications that include "Women's Own," "She," "Fashion Collection," "Sulekha," and "Dallas Child."

"Saffron Dreams" (978-1-932690-73-6 paperback, 978-1-932690-72-9 hardcover, Modern History Press, 2009) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.


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