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Hailed as “Word Artist” by critics, Shaila Abdullah (born 1971) is an award-winning Pakistani-American author, writer, and designer. Her creative work focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani women and their often unconventional choices in life. Her work also deals with the Asian experience in the United States, the conflict between the two worlds and the culture of her adopted country.
Abdullah is the author of five books, Saffron Dreams, Beyond the Cayenne Wall and three children’s books My Friend Suhana", "Rani in Search of a Rainbow, and A Manual for Marco. Abdullah has received many awards for her work including the Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, the Golden Quill Award, and the Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading.
Abdullah's 2005 debut book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall is a collection of short stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society. Her award-winning novel Saffron Dreams explores the tragedy of 9/11 from the perspective of a Muslim widow. My Friend Suhana coauthored with Abdullah’s daughter Aanyah discusses cerebral palsy and uncommon friendships, while A Manual for Marco is about sibling relationships when dealing with autism. Rani in Search of a Rainbow discusses the 2010 Pakistan floods and provides a tool for children to make sense of natural disasters.
The author has received several awards for her work including the Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, Golden Quill Award, Reader Views Award, Written Art Award, and a grant from Hobson Foundation. "Beyond the Cayenne Wall"' received the Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction which is the highest award in the Norumbega Fiction Awards.
Several academic institutions have adopted Saffron Dreams as course study or recommended reading. The work has also been used as a basis for several presentations and papers. In early 2014, a research team from Washington and Lee University conducted a study in which they found that reading a 3,000-word extract from Saffron Dreams can make you less racist. The novel is also cited as 50 Greatest Works of Immigration Literature by Open Education Database.
- Oh, Seiwoong (2009). "Abdullah, Shaila". Encyclopedia of Asian-American Literature. pp. 4–5.
- PS Magazine: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/reading-literary-fiction-can-make-less-racist-76155/.