Shaila Abdullah


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Book Description

 Publication Date: February 2009
 Publisher: Modern History Press (Reflections of America Series)
 Pages: 248
 Format: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle
 Size: 6 x 9
 ISBN #: 978-1-932690-72-9, hardcover | 978-1-932690-73-6, paperback
Amazon: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle | Academic Edition
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Four Honors for Saffron Dreams
Saffron Dreams won the Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, Golden Quill Award, the Reader Views Award and the Written Art Award. View more awards

You don't know you're a misfit until you are marked as an outcast.
From the darkest hour of American history emerges a mesmerizing tale of tender love, a life interrupted, and faith recovered. Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and writer, discovers in a single moment that no matter how carefully you map your life, it is life itself that chooses your destiny. 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. Saffron Dreams is a novel about our ever evolving identities and the events and places that shape them. It reminds us that in the midst of tragedy, our dreams can become a lasting legacy.


"Eloquently written, a must-read for any one interested in exploring the lived experiences of Muslim women in the United States."
Dr. Ali Asani, Professor of the Practice of Indo-Muslim Languages and Cultures, Harvard University

"Like Abdullah's story collection, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, this work provides a remarkable, inevitably hopeful glimpse into the daily life of Muslim woman living in America. Highly recommended."
—Faye A. Chadwell, Library Journal

"I thoroughly enjoyed Saffron Dreams and recommend it to anyone interested in multicultural fiction – it's a great read and you won't be disappointed."
—Swapna Krishna, S. Krishna's Books

"A much-needed perspective in the void of the American Muslim experience, Saffron Dreams is an unflinching look at the societal pressures of widowhood, the role that art can play in the healing process, and the impact of media bias and stereotyping on the Muslim American community in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks." Read full review
Sandhya Nankani, Literary Safari

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For Educators

Responding to the needs of educational institutions, we developed an academic edition of Saffron Dreams that includes an Instructor’s Manual containing discussion topics and questions for each chapter. This edition also contains a suggested reading list, glossary, and recipes of dishes mentioned in the novel. In recent past, many academic institutions have adopted Saffron Dreams as a course study or recommended reading in the last few months, including the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University, Boston University,Owens Community College, Drake University, and George Washington University. A free desk copy can be requested via email by educators with an academic mailing address.

A comprehensive list of dissertations and papers is below the video.

For Book Club Members

The author is available to participate in your discussions virtually, through phone, Skype or Google Video chat. Learn more

View a reading guide for Saffron Dreams

View book video

Dissertations and Papers

An Ambassador Role in Shaila Abdullah’s Saffron Dreams
Paper presented by Hasnul Insani Djohar, 12th East-West Center International Graduate Student Conference on the Asia-Pacific Region, Imin International Conference Center Honolulu, Hawai‘i, February 2013
The topic of this paper is the relationship between Muslims and Americans, specifically the Muslim struggle to distance themselves from the stereotype of terrorism in the post-9/11 world as well as after the attacks on the US embassies in North Africa and the Middle East. Using a post-colonial framework and an approach informed by feminist studies, this paper analyzes Shaila Abdulla’s Saffron Dreams and its depictions of a Muslim-American woman and her role as a cultural translator between the “Orient” and the “Occident.”

Like "hair sneaking from beneath the scarf": Contemporary immigrant Muslim women novelists speak of gender, immigration, and Islam
Dissertation by Sabiha Sorgun, Ph.D., Department of English, Northern Illinois University, 2011
This study analyzes four representative novels by contemporary immigrant women writers, namely, Shaila Abdullah's Saffron Dreams , Randa Jarrar's A Map of Home , Laila Halaby's West of the Jordan , and Mohja Kahf's The Girl in the Tangerine Scarfin order to examine how these writers respond to conversations about and by Muslim women between the non-Muslim West and the Muslim Middle East. 

Muslim Women and Immigration in Shaila Abdullah’s Saffron Dreams
Presented by Nicholas Duron, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, University of Texas, San Antonio COLFA Spring Research Conference, March 2012

Other People’s Parts: Covering the Undesirable in Works by Nafisa Haji and Shaila Abdullah
Miriam Robinson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Performing South Asia at Home and Abroad, The 12th Annual South Asian Literary Association (SALA) Conference, January 2012

Ripening across Space and Time: Shaila Abdullah’s Saffon Dreams as an Anglophone Muslim Bildungsromane
Presented by Dr. Naglaa Hassan, Fayoum University Solving Social Issues Through Multicultural Experiences, NAAS 20th Anniversary Conference 2012, February 2012

Beyond the Veil: Evolving Muslim-American Identity in Shaila Abdullah's Saffron Dreams
Paper presented by Anjana Thampi, Full-time Research Scholar Research Centre and PG Department of English, FMN College, Kollam, October 2009

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Cover: Saffron Dreams

Saffron Dreams
Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and writer, discovers in a single moment that no matter how carefully you map your life, it is life itself that chooses your destiny.

Buy Saffron Dreams

Cover: Beyond the Cayenne Wall

Beyond the Cayenne Wall
An award-winning collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society.

Buy Beyond the Cayenne Wall

Copyright © Shaila Abdullah.
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