Nov 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah

Welcome to the Green Books Review Campaign, sponsored by Eco-Libris -- logo was created by the talented Susan Newman.  100 bloggers, 100 books, 100 reviews -- today at 1 PM EST.

We're here to shed light on the publishers and books available on the market using recycled products and "green" practices.  If you missed my initial post about the campaign, check it out now.  For updates on the campaign, visit Eco-Libris' blog.

Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah is printed on 30 percent post-consumer waste and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified book paper.  It is also one of the best books I've read in 2009.  Stay tuned for giveaway information.

"Summer in Houston tastes like dirt, thick bellowing mounds of dust piling on and on until you can't breathe anymore.  Sometimes a squalling wind arrives, pressing its puckered lips to the window panes.  Whooooo, it shrieks, whooooosh, and then it cavorts over the pile of dust, depositing it evenly in our miracle-less world.  The rain that follows washes it all away, leaving behind an acerbic mustiness that lingers until September brings in the moldiness that I associate with loss, the dull snicker of an autumn past."  (Page 178)

A somber tone permeates Saffron Dreams from Arissa Illahi's childhood to her present in 2006-2007, weaving in and out through her past and present.  Abdullah's narrative technique will hook readers and carry them alongside Arissa on her journey from Pakistan to America as she matures, marries, gives birth, and reconciles her culture and her religion with her new homeland -- a homeland that has grown wary of Muslims following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"With every horn or commotion guilt-ridden with sins they did not commit.  They walked faster when alone.  Some women took down their hijabs, afraid of being targeted, and adopted a conservative but Western style of dressing.  Men cut their beards.  Many postponed plans to visit the country of their origin any time soon.  Those who did travel preferred to remain quiet during their journey and chose not to converse in their native language even among family members."  (Page 60)

Saffron's bitter taste is present throughout the novel as Arissa is steeped in grief and guilt, but the fragrance of hay often associated with saffron lulls her character with memories.  Ami, Arissa's mother, was absent for much of her upbringing and her father allowed her to find love on her own terms.  It is this family life that shapes her ideas about love, marriage, and family.  Once married to Faizan Illahi, she finds happiness and revels in it, until her life is obliterated in 2001.

Abdullah delves deep into a wife's guilt, particularly a wife who has adopted a nation as her home that would rather root her out and label her as the enemy.  The dichotomy between religion and culture, mother and daughter, grief and survival are tangible and heart-wrenching.  Some of the best elements in the story include parallels between art and writing and those two talents suffuse the narrative with a dreamlike quality.

Readers will get lost in Arissa's grief and her confusion about starting anew.  They will cheer her on as her determination takes over.  Each chapter provides a date stamp to orient readers, but Arissa's narrative shifts easily from past to present on more than one occasion as memories take over.  Saffron Dreams is more than just an emotional journey of perseverance amid the most trying circumstances and tragic events, it is an evolution of one Muslim woman into a whole self, strong enough to stand alone and blossom.

Please check out the rest of the stops in the Green Books Campaign blog tour; there are a wide range of books from fiction to nonfiction and poetry to sustainable living guides. 

I want to thank Shaila Abdullah and her publisher Modern History Press for sending along a free copy for me to review.  Clicking on book titles and covers will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; no purchases are necessary.

Photo of author Shaila Abdullah
Photo by Galina Stepanova   

About the Author:

Shaila Abdullah was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1971. She has a bachelors degree in English literature and a diploma in graphic design. She also has a diploma in freelance writing. She has written several short stories, articles, and personal essays for various publications, such as Maybe Quarterly, Damazine, Women's Own, She, Fashion Collection, Dallas Child, Web Guru, About Families, Sulekha, Pakistaniaat, and a magazine of the Daily Dawn newspaper called Tuesday Review, etc. She is a member of the Writers' League of Texas.

Also, please view her literature blog, her art blog, and her design blog.

Giveaway information:  1 copy, autographed for U.S. residents only

1.  Leave a comment about what books you've found during the Green Books Campaign that you would buy.

2.  Spread the word about the campaign and the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc., and leave a comment with a link.

3.  Followers receive five additional entries and new followers receive three extra entries.

Deadline is Nov. 17, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST


bermudaonion said...

I'm anxious to read this and I'm glad to see it's green. No need to enter me.

Alyce said...

I already read this one and enjoyed it, so no need to enter me in the contest. Great review!

Anonymous said...

I found this sentence in your post: "The dichotomy between religion and culture, mother and daughter, grief and survival are tangible and heart-wrenching." to be almost universally true of much of the Middle Eastern writing I've read. I'm almost at the point where I'm not eager to pick up such a book again...A Thousand Splendid Suns following The Kite Runner about did me in. I love the cover, however, and the author surely is beautiful. (No need to enter me in your give away.)

Brimful Curiosities said...

I would like to read this book and think it would make for an interesting discussion at my monthly women's book club. I also enjoyed participating in the Green Books campaign.

Melanie said...

I love the cover of this one - and your description is amazing. I don't read many books like this but now I want to go get myself a copy right away! Thanks for highlighting it, and the Green Books Campaign (I also participated and have enjoyed it!)

I am not in the US so no contest entry here!

Aarti said...

This sounds really interesting. No need to enter me in the contest, but I'll keep my eye out for it!

Julie P. said...

Don't enter me, but I just wanted to say how happy I was to hear that this book was printed on recycled paper. I had no idea!

Jess - A Book Hoarder said...

This book looks really interesting and the cover is beautiful. Please enter me.

I love that we are able to buy "green" books. This campaign introduced me to Art and Upheaval by William Cleveland as well as I have My Mother's Eyes by Barbara Ruth Bluman.

I am an old follower on google reader.

I posted about this in my sidebar:

Amber said...

Nice review. It's easy to tell how much you liked it.

No need to enter me - I was just stopping by to say hello!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You can enter me! I would actually consider buying this one, and actually I think every other one I've read a review of today! I'm easily persuaded to buy books! :--)

Please add 5 extra entries for my being a follower!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Melody said...

Great review!
I've read good reviews about this so I'm definitely looking out for this. :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book.

Priya said...

Sounds interesting!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've so enjoyed all of the green campaign reviews, but I think yours takes the prize. It sounds beautiful, which I am sure it is, but then again you write beautiful reviews! Congrats on your participation in the campaign! I would love to enter to win this book! rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing a lot about this one. It's definitely on my "to buy" list, especially now that I know it's a "green" book.

Mommy Reporter said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I usually don't like stories that are too emotional, but this one seems different. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Toni said...

Wow.. I didn't even know there was a giveaway. But best book you read in 2009... that is a stellar recommendation. What I have seen today in the "green" campaign is that a lot of books with rich cultural tones and vibes have been printed in a "green" manner. That rocks. Yours is the fourth review today. Yahoo...lots of good reviews today. Enter me pretty please. tonigomez (at) surewest (dot) net

Lorin said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Very very cool - this book is on my wish list! I would buy this one for sure and am still looking at others.

I am a follower +5 :)


journey through books @ gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this Go Green Tour! And this book is on my wish list.

stacybooks at yahoo

Veens said...

Wow! Sounds so good and I am so happy to hear that it is so "green"
Please dnt enter me, i am not eligible!
But I am sure to look for this one here!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

very interesting read. I like exotic books and writers. I also love the idea of recycling and all that...thanks for this

S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but I loved this book and am glad to see it's green! Great review.

Linda said...

I've read other reviews of this book, but your saying it's a favorite for 2009 has convinced me. And I like that it's green. Another green book I read about on Susan's blogginboutbooks site that sounds esp. interesting is Monica Kidd's Any Other Woman. My daughter and I are very interested in genalogical research. Thanks for the giveaway.

And I'm a follower (+5) thru Google Reader.


Anna said...

This sounds great, and it's definitely one I would buy...though I'm going to try the giveaway first! ;)

I've added this to my sidebar, and of course, I'm a follower!

Diary of an Eccentric

Gwendolyn B. said...

I saw a lot of books that I would buy, but besides SAFFRON DREAMS (which will be a Christmas present to myself if I don't win!), I'd pick up PARIS TIMES EIGHT by Deirdre Kelly and WAITING ON A TRAIN by James McCommons. I noticed a LOT of kids books are green and I think that's terrific! Thanks for the chance to win this book!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm a(n old) Follower!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

Well I for one would buy this sounds great! Please enter me.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

I've also been a follower.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Carol M said...

I would be interested in buying Tofu Cookery. I'm a vegetarian and I'm always looking for new recipes.
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Carol M said...

I'm a new follower.
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Blogged about this giveaway here:

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

southernmatrix said...

i am a new follower. I would like to read this green book. libbysutherland forty-six at gmail dot com

Emma said...

Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

Sue said...

This one looks so wonderful! I'd love to add it to my wish list. I've loved the Green Books campaign. There are several... Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Benita said...

I'd buy this book and Paris on a Train. I absolutely loved this green campaign. Thanks.


Benita said...

I am a new follower, as of a few minutes ago. +3