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“A most remarkable book built upon extraordinary research, beautiful writing, and devotion to telling the truth about the outstanding elite free colored community in New Orleans and its multi-generational battles for equal rights and against deeply entrenched, growing violent racism in their beloved home.”
--GWENDOLYN MIDLOW HALL,PhD
Creator, Louisiana Slave Database and Author, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the 18th Century.   

PBS/ WWNO 

"must read"

The Reading Life

with Susan Larson

Washington Independent Review of Books: 

How an Antebellum Creole Aid Society Helped Shape New Orleans

The Christian Science Monitor:

An Early Black Mutual Aid Society Surfaces in New Orleans 

america magazine:aNew Orleans jazz hall and its history in the fight for Black freedom by jason berry

New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune: Economy Hall's hidden history is revealed in rescued journals from a turbulent time

Live from the NYPL

Bliss Broyard and Fatima Shaik in conversation. Video

Apple Podcasts: The PEN POD Economy Hall and Black History with Fatima Shaik 

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR ECONOMY HALL

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“Fatima Shaik brings the 19th century members of the Economie society to life with compelling details and sensitive, heart-felt writing ....She interlaces quotes from the Economie’s never-before-seen journals with snippets from newspapers, property and census records, travelers’ memoirs, and even séances to create a rich non-fiction narrative that reads like a novel.”

 

"Afro-Creole writer and activist Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes first offered a glimpse into the Société d’Economie’s early history in Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire....Now, Shaik, a twenty-first century heir to the Desdunes’s legacy, proposes to open an exciting new window onto the city’s rich multiethnic, multiracial history. As her eloquent 'Prologue' indicates, she is ideally suited for the task."

This is wonderful work...In Economy Hall, Fatima Shaik has taken mere stick figures of American history and brought them to life as wise, vulnerable, determined men. For more than a century, the Creoles of New Orleans sought to introduce democracy to America, which was hardly democratic. Shaik has resurrected their struggles and brought them into sharper focus."

NANCY MILFORD,

author,  Zelda  and 

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna

St. Vincent Millay

CARYN COSSE BELL, 

Pulitzer nominated author of Revolution, Romanticism and the

Afro-Creole Protest Tradition,

1718-1868 

LOLIS ERIC ELIE,

Producer of "Faubourg Tremé" and writer for the HBO series "Tremé"

 

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR ECONOMY HALL

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“Fatima Shaik brings the 19th century members of the Economie society to life with compelling details and sensitive, heart-felt writing ....She interlaces quotes from the Economie’s never-before-seen journals with snippets from newspapers, property and census records, travelers’ memoirs, and even séances to create a rich non-fiction narrative that reads like a novel.”

 

"Afro-Creole writer and activist Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes first offered a glimpse into the Société d’Economie’s early history in Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire....Now, Shaik, a twenty-first century heir to the Desdunes’s legacy, proposes to open an exciting new window onto the city’s rich multiethnic, multiracial history. As her eloquent 'Prologue' indicates, she is ideally suited for the task."

This is wonderful work...In Economy Hall, Fatima Shaik has taken mere stick figures of American history and brought them to life as wise, vulnerable, determined men. For more than a century, the Creoles of New Orleans sought to introduce democracy to America, which was hardly democratic. Shaik has resurrected their struggles and brought them into sharper focus."

NANCY MILFORD,

author,  Zelda  and 

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna

St. Vincent Millay

CARYN COSSE BELL, 

Pulitzer nominated author of Revolution, Romanticism and the

Afro-Creole Protest Tradition,

1718-1868 

LOLIS ERIC ELIE,

Producer of "Faubourg Tremé" and writer for the HBO series "Tremé"

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“I found it exhilarating to step through the doors of the Eocnomy Hall as the society's members refuted the claims of scientific racism; assembled...their collection of books...fostered the emergence of jazz...rovided the means for spiritualism to thrive; and so on throughout the manuscript...Shaik maps a complex historical, geographical, and emotional terrain characterized by complex (an often misunderstood) distinctions of culture, color, class, and manners....She makes a convincing argument that the origins of Creole community...reside in the founding of the Société in 1836." 

 

SHIRLEY THOMPSON, UT Austin

author, Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in

Creole New Orleans 

"This narrative describing the evolution of New Orleans' free colored community is beautifully written and accessible to a general reader. For historians and those who have some knowledge and interest in New Orleans and the Creole community, the Economie journals are a rare and very significant find. Shaik has tracked down the signatures of organization members who were involved in important historical developments. We will now have another view and fuller picture of the history of the people and the times."

"Fatima Shaik has unconvered an important and overlooked chapter of our shared history and, as the opening pages of her book about the Société d'Economie reveal, she has done so with the touch of a gifted writer and the eye of an insightful journalist." 

MITCHELL ZUCKOFF,

Redstone Prof of Narrative Studies, BU

author, Fall and Rise: The Story of 9-11

MARY FRANCES BERRY,

Geraldine R. Segal Prof. of

American Social Thought, UPenn

former chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, former President of the Organization of American Historians

"Shaik's re-creation of these men and their milieur, along with the story of the journals themselves, is one of the most compelling pieces of creative non-fiction I've read."  

DIANE SIMMONS,

author, Courtship of Eva Eldridge and several critical books on American writers. 

 

BIO

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Fatima Shaik is the author of Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free, Black Brotherhood (The Historic New Orleans Collection, February 2021).  She was born in the historic Seventh Ward of New Orleans and bred on the oral histories of Black Creoles told by her family and neighbors.  Only after she read the records of the Economie—3,000 pages of handwritten French stored in her family’s home—did she realize this community’s impact. She spent two decades reading the journals and documenting events with real estate records, legal cases, old monographs, and articles. A full-time journalist for more than a decade, Shaik founded the Communication Department at Saint Peter's University and taught as tenured faculty for 25 years. Her freelance articles appeared in Essence, Nikkei Architecture, L'Expansion, The New York Times, In These Times, and The Root. Shaik is a trustee of PEN America and former board member of The Writers Room in NYC. Economy Hall is her first work of nonfiction and her seventh book.

Fatima photo good.jpg

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY FRW Scholar in residence
LOUISIANA ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES, Publishing Initiative Grant

PLATFORMS FUND, ANTENNA WORKS (Andy Warhol and Joan Mitchell foundations) Research and Development Grant

AFRICANA STUDIES PROGRAM NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Literature residency
THE KITTREDGE FUND, Research and writing grant
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT OF THE HUMANITIES, Fellowship

B. S. Boston University, School of Public Communication

M.A. New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

 


UPCOMING FILM 

Award-winning filmmaker Kavery Kaul’s upcoming documentary THE BENGALI takes Fatima Shaik on a remarkable journey from New Orleans, the city of her birth, to India where her grandfather came from --- the untold story of ties that link African-Americans and South Asians in the U.S. 

 

Previous Books by Fatima Shaik and Work in Anthologies

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Personal Essays

PEN America

In These Times

 

Upcoming Events

  • Mining History
    Mining History
    https://pen.org/event/mining-history/
    May 20, 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT
    https://pen.org/event/mining-history/
    In their stirring recent works, Fatima Shaik, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Saidiya V. Hartman recover lost and untold stories from the early history of Black freedom in America.
    Share
  • Writing Your Community's History: A Virtual Workshop
    Writing Your Community's History: A Virtual Workshop
    PEN America Austin Chapter Webnair
    May 25, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM EDT
    PEN America Austin Chapter Webnair
    Historical resources for writing about a community are endless. They exist in material culture, archives, museums, genealogy sites, and family documents. This workshop explores research and writing basics through the lens of ethnicity to promote storytelling that reveals universal themes.
    Share
  • Uncover Your Family's Legacy and Tell Your Story
    Uncover Your Family's Legacy and Tell Your Story
    https://www.ourgeneticlegacy.org/events-1/h
    Jun 04, 6:15 PM – 7:00 PM PDT
    https://www.ourgeneticlegacy.org/events-1/h
    OurGeneticLegacy.org, a new nonprofit exploring DNA-related history is sponsoring this workshop that will provide ways to tell family stories based on evidence and context.
    Share
  • Assemblée! A Celebration of the History and Legacy of Economy Hall
    Assemblée! A Celebration of the History and Legacy of Economy Hall
    webnair
    Jun 27, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM CDT
    webnair
    LA Creole Research Association and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivel present the music and people of Economy Hall with OperaCrèole, musicians Don Vappie and Michael White, and writers Fatima Shaik and Mark Roudané:
    Share
  • The Music of Economy Hall with Michael White
    TBD
    The Music of Economy Hall with Michael White
    link to come
    Time is TBD
    link to come
    Garden District Bookshop will host acclaimed clarinetist and scholar Dr. Michael White to interview Fatima Shaik about the performers and genres of music played in Economy Hall.
    Share

Virtual, accessible, and each event promises NEW information! 

 

Note the local time zones for each event.

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For any media inquiries, please contact

Scott Manning, 603-491-0995, scott@scottmanningpr.com

Abigail Welhouse, 646-517-2826, abigail@scottmanningpr.com

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