Shelina Shariff-Zia

Literature & Fiction

Author Profile

Shelina  Shariff-Zia

Shelina Shariff-Zia grew up in Nairobi, a tomboy who climbed trees and was always getting into trouble. She is the fifth generation of an Indian family who moved to Kenya from Gujarat. She attended Loreto Convent Msongari, a school run by Irish nuns. The author grew up speaking English, Gujarati and Swahili. At nineteen, she moved to Texas to study Literature at Rice University. After an M.A.in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, she went back to Kenya to work in education. Later she became a Wall Street reporter covering chemicals and finance. After living in Nairobi, Kampala, Karachi, Toronto, Cincinnati and Miami among other cities she has settled in New York with her family. She teaches English at the Bronx Community College. This is her first novel.

Books

Book Bubbles from Nairobi Days

WESTLANDS --THE TEACHER WHO CALLED US MONKEYS

Now that I have had to control a noisy classroom myself, I have more sympathy with Mrs. Virjee getting stressed at the class and calling us names. Since no one in the class understood Gujararti it did no harm until I "helpfully" translated what she was saying!

WESTLANDS PRIMARY-- A NEW FRIEND

I walked home from Westlands Primary with my friend Biti. we had many adventures walking down the hill and bumping into wandering goats.

THINGS FALL APART FOR MA.

My novel is fictional but inspired by people I knew. But Ma's life was so momentous, I did not have to make up or exaggerate the events in her life to make them exciting. Her strong bond with her twin sister was just as described, so Kheru Maasi waited to say goodbye to Ma before drawing her last breath. Ma had the gift of making everyone feel special. I try and remember my conversations with Ma and it wasn't anything in particular she said that made her so special, it was an aura she had that attracted children and animals alike.

MA AND THE BABIES

"A Babe in the manger, no place for a crib" .It seems right to publish this passage about babies at Christmas Time. When I gave a reading at Vancouver's Ismaili Center, this passage set of a volley of questions. People wondered how hundreds of babies were adopted and yet the very existence of the home was a secret, But as I wrote, the names of the the single mothers who were looked after and gave up their children were never disclosed, Open adoption was decades in the future. The home was later closed as there were fewer Ismaili single mothers.

A DAY WITH GRANDMA

Ma's character is almost the same as she was in real life. Her life was so dramatic already. She was married at twelve and a widow with eight children at thirty five. But she surmounted her difficulties, kept the family together and became a leader in the community. There was something about her, her spirit that drew children and animals close to her.

KENYA BECOMES INDEPENDENT __JAMHURI DAY

On December 12th, 1963 Kenya officially became a Republic, independent from the English. I was only aa year old and was born to the heady excitement that anything was possible now that we were free to control our own destiny.

GOODBYE TO ANNA.

I still remember Anna and how kind and loving she was to us. I think my parents were wrong to dismiss her for her theft and should have given her a second chance.

My brother is missing...

The beginning of "Nairobi Days" is based on a real terrorist attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

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