The author speaking about the Société d'Economie


For the centenial of Rudolph Desdune's seminal text Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire -- Our Men and Our History -- and the 45 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s honorary doctorate conferred by Saint Peter's college, a panel on the 19th century Equal Rights movement in New Orleans featured authors Dr. Caryn Cossé Bell and Fatima Shaik (February 22, 2011)

The New York Bookwoman

Bestseller: A Recipe By Fatima Shaik
1 Book (written from the heart)--Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
1 Wisecracking Author (English accent preferable) -- Helen Simonson
1 Devoted Agent -- Julie Barer
1 Team of Experts from Random House -- Editorial, Susan Kamil; Marketing, Avideh Bashirrad; Publicity, Karen Fink; Paperbacks, Jane von Mehren

Mix well and serve hot to bookstores and book clubs via hardcover, e-book and paperback. Then, enjoy the results - a first novel that is now available in 20 countries and translated into 18 languages, which has spent 36 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and has sold almost 400,000 copies in paper in less than a year.

'The Making of a Bestseller: From Acquisition to Market,' described a palatable success to over 70 audience members on November 9 and was moderated by Jane Kinney-Denning and Manuela Soares, Pace University Publishing Program professors.

Author Simonson described writing Major Pettigrew as leaving the "10% hairy margins" of literature and approaching "something authentic to me and what I wanted." Her vision was an English village, a cottage, a retired man and the Pakistani woman who lived down the block. Literary agent Julie Barer, saw Simonson's initial chapter for the first time in 2006 but the book wasn't finished. "Once a year," Barer said, "I'd send a note saying, 'Wondering how that book is coming along.'" When Barer finally read the manuscript in December 2008, "I sat in my big white chair by the window and I didn't move until the end." At the time, the economy was slowing down and the book business looked dim. But after reading Simonson's book, Barer said, "For the first time in weeks, I felt happy."

Senior Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief of Random House, Susan Kamil read the manuscript and bought it immediately - even donning her coat and leaving her office to interrupt her boss' lunch across the street to get a swift go-ahead for acquisition. "Your gut and your experience are what you have to go on when you have to act quickly," she said. The editing process was brief, but during this time Simonson comically recalled for the audience that she had misinterpreted Kamil's handwritten notes saying "love this," thinking they said, "lose this." Simonson took out some of her "best jokes." Later, she had to reinsert them.

Avideh Bashirrad, Vice President, Director of Marketing at Random House, said that a focus on book clubs helped Major Pettigrew. It also sold quickly in e-book, boosted, in some part, by Oprah's endorsement of the Kindle around the same time. When Karen Fink, Assistant Director of Publicity at the Random House Publishing group found herself daydreaming about whether "the Major and Mrs. Ali" would take a cruise together, she realized just how much she loved the characters. Her marketing team put together a plan: 'I ❤ the Major.' The love theme resonated with the media, including the New York Times, where critic Janet Maslin reviewed the book "like a love letter," Fink said.

"Really crucial in paperbacks is timing," added Jane von Mehren, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Trade Paperbacks at the Random House Publishing Group. She pushed to have the book on sale in November to get the holiday buyers and lists, and studied the competition.

When Simonson got on the road to promote the book - an 8-city tour, then a 17-city tour - Fink said the author needed no media training. Simonson said, "I'm a stay-at-home mom with two kids and I don't get out much. So give me a mike and I can go all night."

The whole team's enthusiasm for the book and the process showed. The WNBA-NYC audience was thoroughly satiated. A delicious evening.


Along with many international writers, I'll read from my new book at two of four sets: 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30. A reception will follow.

Speaker: Tennessee Williams Festival 2016

People and Places: A Reading of New Fiction
Sunday, November 22 @ 11:00 am

Fatima Shaik has written a love letter to the entertaining, unpredictable, and flawed characters who populated New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina in What Went Missing and What Got Found, a lyrical short story collection with undertones of the blues.......... A man decides he’ll save his failing New York restaurant by traveling to Cuba to reclaim a legendary chicken recipe stolen from his family by Fidel Castro in Phillippe Diederich’s debut novel Sofrito (pictured)..... In her novel, Almost Crimson, Dasha Kelly portrays a young woman’s struggle to break free from the grips of codependency and poverty to find confidence and success in her career and her personal life...... Multidisciplinary writer and artist Vanessa Garcia’s novel White Light is the story of an artist torn between the need to mourn her father and the chance to break into the art world.

National Council of Social Studies: The Story of New Orleans
The Writer and Community November 13, 2015

Louisiana Book Festival October 31 2015 Reading and signing

Launch of What Went Missing and What Got Found

Homefest Community Books, New Orleans, La. July 2015

Signing at the Essence Festival July 2015

PEN World Voices Festival 2015

Moderator Fatima Shaik with Baba Wagué Dikité, Marilyn Nelson, Nnedi Okorafor
May 6, 2016 Nuyorican Poets Cafe VIDEO

New Jersey Communication Association Annual Conference

panel on diversity April 11, 2015
Saint Peter's University MacMahon Student Center

@ Culture Rapide

African-American Genealogy Panel November 22, 2014

Presentation at the New Orleans Public Library, LA Creole Research Association October 20, 2014

January 15, 2014
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
938 Lafayette St.
New Orleans, La. 70113

Nancy Dixon Editor, N.O. Lit
New Orleans Literature Scholar CW Cannon,
Contributor Fatima Shaik,
Brian Boyles from LEH, and more..





Author and Noble Prize-winner Toni Morrison recently addressed the 2011 conference of the international literary and human rights organization PEN in New York City about the importance of books in the electronic age of Twitter, Google, Facebook and other brand name shortcuts to information. She said that literature is “character building,” “suitable for high-minded leisure activity” and a process that “cultivates the powers of the imagination, integral to citizenship.”

She was motivating a room of writers who were about to begin a Working Day for PEN, discussing contemporary issues and the writer’s role, including a panel in the afternoon about New Orleans. For a moment, I wondered just how much more rhetoric the city needed compared to dollars and jobs.

But as I heard Morrison encourage writers to escape the “electronic spectacle” of entertainment that creates a “community, shaped by fear and unquenchable desire” I realized that her message about literature – actually literacy – should be taken to heart by everyone.


Working Day: New Orleans
When: Thursday, April 28
Where: St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School, 233 Mott St., New York City
What time: 2–5 p.m.

Introductory notes: Sarah Broom, Richard Campanella, Fatima Shaik, and Billy Sothern; curated by Nathaniel Rich

*Open to PEN Members, Festival authors, heads of cultural agencies, and press. RSVP to jessica@​ by April 22. Limited space. Please register early.*


New Orleans has long been a city from which writers have sought inspiration. Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Kate Chopin, Truman Capote, Walker Percy, and Richard Ford are among those who have lived and worked there. What is the role of the writer—if any—in New Orleans today? Does the writer have any kind of civic duty to uphold following a tragedy like Katrina, and if so, what is it? In this session we will hope to draft plans for a public program that PEN will help to coordinate in New Orleans during the coming year.

When: Sunday, May 1, 2011
Where: The Kitchen, 512 W. 19th St., New York City
What time: 3:30–5 p.m.

With Sarah Broom, Richard Campanella, Nicholas Lemann, Fatima Shaik, and Billy Sothern; moderated by Nathaniel Rich

Tickets: $10. Call (212) 255-5793 ext. 11 or visit

Co-sponsored by The Kitchen


Reissue of The Mayor of New Orleans: Just Talking Jazz,
reading to New Orleans Literature classes Oct. 20, 2011

Humanities Center LEH New Orleans
"Two Centuries of Writing: The Literature of the Free
Colored Community and Their Descendants in New Orleans."
A panel with Caryn Cossé Bell, Jari Honora and Fatima Shaik, July 23, 2011 at 4 p.m.