Pakistani-American author's book wins the 2005 Norumbega Fiction Award
November 7, 2005
Austin, TX—Beyond the Cayenne Wall, a collection of short stories by Pakistani-American author Shaila Abdullah received the Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction in the 2005 Norumbega Fiction Awards. It is an an annual literary competition open to American and Canadian writers who have completed a work of fiction since 2003. The book was released in October 2005. It is available on both Amazon and Barnes and Nobles websites.
In the wake of recent political events, there is a widespread interest among the general public today to gain an insight into the lives and culture of Muslims all around the globe. This new genre of literature resonating with the cultural voice has won much acclaim in the book industry, according to Aileen Jacobson of Newsday (July, 2005).
In Beyond the Cayenne Wall, Abdullah explores the lives of contemporary Pakistani women and depicts the rising discontent of their powerlessness in that region of shifting boundaries. So much so that even as expatriates, they struggle to find their individualities and are forced to weigh every choice against that ever-looming societal wall that separates the acceptable from the sinful, the decent from the immoral.
In the first story, "Amulet for the Caged Dove," Abdullah describes the perils of Tannu, a woman who is forced to give up her firstborn child to the caretakers of the temple of Shah Daullah in order to uphold the tradition of sacrifice. Then there is the story of Dhool in "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust," who confronts the five mistakes in her life and ventures out among the wolves in human clothing to make the lives of her children better. In "Crimson Calling," a young woman in Texas regrets her affair with a married professor and flees back to Pakistan for an arranged marriage. Perhaps the most striking account of alienation and the clash of two worlds comes in "Forever Dusk," where a young married woman returns to her native country to bring her widowed mother back to live with her brother in the United States. "Demons of the Past" is a disturbing account of a young mother in search of her birth mother who uncovers bitter realities that were perhaps best left uncovered.
In these and several other stories, Abdullah weaves together a fine collection of events that spin around betrayals, confessions, lost opportunities, misunderstandings, revenge, acceptance, and denial, shaken in with exotic spices and flavors that result in a treat for the senses.
An excerpt of Beyond the Cayenne Walls is available online at: http://www.shailaabdullah.com/story-01.html
About Shaila Abdullah:
Abdullah has been writing for Dallas Child, About Families, Sulekha,Women's Own, Fashion Collection, and other publications since 1993. Her creative work focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani women and their often unconventional choices in life. She is a member of the Texas Writers' League and lives in Austin, Texas. She enjoys meeting readers at book signings.
you can't do anything about the length of your life,
but you can do something about its width and depth.
- evan esar
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