Uzma Jalaluddin

Uzma Jalaluddin writes “Samosas and Maple Syrup,” a culture and parenting column for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. Her debut novel, Ayesha At Last, is a revamped Pride and Prejudice set in a close-knit Toronto Muslim community, published by HarperCollins Canada, Berkley Publishing in the United States, and Atlantic Books overseas. The book has been reviewed in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Toronto Star, Chatelaine, Quill and Quire and The New York Times, and she has appeared on tv shows The Social, Cityline as well as CBC Radio. Ayesha At Last was recently optioned for film by Sony and Pascal Pictures. Uzma lives in Markham, Ontario, with her husband and two sons, where she also teaches high school.

SPEAKING TOPICS

Raising “Woke” Kids in a Diverse City
Uzma Jalaluddin is a mother of two sons, and was born and raised in Toronto to South Asian immigrants. She writes “Samosas and Maple Syrup” a regular parenting column for the Toronto Star that explores the challenges and humorous triumphs of raising young people in a changing, diverse world. She is also a public high school teacher who has first hand experience with academic and emotional issues facing young people, including well being, health and identity. This talk would explore the fear of losing tradition and culture while embracing the new, and the toll this can take on families and communities. Her writing is full of fun anecdotes and humorous asides that invite a closer look at the dynamics of diverse communities inside the cultural mosaic that is modern day life.

Writing Joyful Diversity
Uzma Jalaluddin is the author of Ayesha At Last, a Pride and Prejudice inspired romantic comedy set in the Toronto Muslim community. The novel is fun, escapist fiction that also provides insight into a faith community and diverse neighbourhood often overlooked in mainstream fiction. This talk will delve into the how and why of writing diverse fiction, as well as advice and pitfalls for writers, educators, and readers. The talk will also discuss the burden and importance of representation, and how writing stories that appeal to all readers, regardless of background, is the first step to sharing and embracing the lived experiences of others.

Little Stories = Big Consequences
I grew up surrounded by storytellers; my favourite stories were the ones my mother and my aunts told me, about the strong women they knew in India. Like the wealthy widow who used her resources to educate neighbourhood women in her own home. Or the female servant who never kept quiet when she witnessed bad behaviour. I learned about the power of stories to combat the limiting narratives that are so often used to harm, diminish and control others. Today I tell stories in my job as a teacher, columnist and novelist. I do it not just to keep the old tales alive and for the pleasure of making up new stories, but also to remind myself, my children, my readers, who they are and where they come from, and how the stories we listen to influence our lives. This speech will focus on my own leadership journey, my inspiration from powerful women, and how involvement in the community – through volunteer work, active parenting, and local advocacy and allyship – can have a ripple effect through our intersecting worlds, lifting us all together.