From time to time, you come across an author that inspires you and takes you into a world you know nothing about…but so glad they took you there. Silmy Abdullah is such an author. She takes you into the lives of Bangladeshi immigrants to Canada and shows the struggles and joys of supporting their roots will discovering a new way of life.
I asked Silmy to give us a glimpse into her own journey and how the book came about:
“I came to Canada with my family in 1998 and we spent our first years in the Oakridge neighborhood of Scarborough. As we built a community there with other Bangladeshi immigrant families, I experienced and saw first-hand, the struggles, the sacrifices, the ups and downs, the challenges and triumphs that come with trying to build a new home, miles away from what you’ve known to be your home for years.
As a lawyer, I practiced immigration law for about four years, but have been in the social justice field for over a decade now. I completed my Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies in 2009, and my thesis critically examined the textbooks of elementary schools in Bangladesh and the ways in which they marginalized poor and ethnic minority children. Then, I went to law school and worked at a human rights firm, and then at an immigration and refugee law firm as a student. After I got called to the Bar, I worked at a non-profit organization where I did research, conducted public legal education workshops and worked on various law reform projects related to gender-based violence.
In 2017, I started working at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO), where I worked as a litigation lawyer on various immigration and income security matters and provided advice and representation to low income South Asian clients. A lot of times, these cases overlapped with gender-based violence matters, so many of my clients were women facing/escaping intimate partner and other forms of violence. During my time at SALCO, I also took part in a number of law reform, advocacy and research initiatives with the goal of advancing equality and justice for low-income racialized communities. Most recently, I have resigned from my role at SALCO and started my own consulting practice, where I will be working with organizations and institutions on various anti-racism and GBV initiatives, providing strategic advice, and research and advocacy support.
The characters and stories in the collection are completely fictional, but the seeds for them came from my own lived experience, and what I observed around me. There is so much richness and diversity in the experiences of my community members, that I felt that they needed to be known and recognized.”
From reading the eight short stories in Silmy’s book, you can quickly see that she takes the inspiration for her plots from her own lived experience as an immigrant and her work with immigrant communities. Canada prides itself on its open immigration policies but how does that translate into the transition of people from one country to this one? Some struggle, some embrace, and others realize that the pull back to the familiar is too strong.
In 2016, Silmy was selected as one of the most promising emerging writers by Toronto’s Diaspora Dialogues program. Through this program, she completed a mentorship with author, Lawrence Hill. You know the book is a winner when Lawrence endorses it right on the front cover:
“An intimate, empathetic, and important portrait of the lives of Bangladeshi immigrants.” — Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes
When we get a glimpse into the Bangladeshi culture, we learn pretty quickly that food plays a great part. Silmy provides us with a comfort food recipe that she particularly enjoys. Check out Khichuri in our Recipe section – a little on the spicy side but oh so good!
Order your own book by going to https://www.silmyabdullahauthor.com/books or check out our Giveaway section and win an autographed copy of these inspiring short stories.
Content and images used with permission by author Silmy Abdullah. https://www.silmyabdullahauthor.com/