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‘This incredible book is both haunting and beautiful. Fauzia Rafique writes with clarity and honesty, forcing the reader to think about elitism, racism, patriarchy, love, honour and obedience. It is told exclusively through the eyes of a Muslim woman, including her early life in Pakistan & later years in Canada. Skeena’s life affords a chilling glimpse at how easy it is to innocently fall back into like circumstances after finally escaping, at great personal cost, similar harm. I highly recommend this remarkable book by a remarkable writer.’
Retired teacher and book lover
Born in 1949 in a small town in Ontario, Bubbles McKegney graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Mathematics degree at the age of 19 & the following year from Althouse College of Education, Western University. She’s lived briefly in Kenya, Sweden, the United States, and Austria & has resided in Kincardine, Ontario for the past 40 years. She has been a feminist throughout her life, volunteering at the Women for Change Centre, Rape Crisis Centres and the local Women’s Shelter. An avid reader with particular sensitivity to gender issues, she juggled teaching high school and elementary school with raising two sons. Now retired, she lives with the love of her life with whom she’s been happily married for 49 years.
There is a sweet backstory to share. Sam McKegney, Associate Professor at the Department of English in Queen’s University Kingston ON, bought my novel Skeena at the 2017 Conference of Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA) in Chilliwack BC, and he passed it onto his mother Bubbles, a ‘chronic’ reader who had a powerful experience reading it. She later shared her impressions with Sam. Last month, it was Bubbles’s 70th birthday and since she is not into acquiring material objects, Sam thought of giving her a present that would really make her happy. He contacted a few of her favorite authors and requested them to send video messages for the occasion. ‘Skeena is a work that has resonated for her significantly since she first read it back in 2017’, wrote Sam. And that became the reason for me to know Bubbles and to appreciate her thoughts about Skeena. In case you are curious after reading the last line of her bio above, here she is ‘with the love of her life’, Ian McKegney. Happy Birthday Bubbles!
Novel ‘Skeena’ has been recognized as one of the ‘100 Must Read Books by Punjabi Authors’ in ‘Legacies of the Homeland’ (Notion Press, Chennai 2018). Researched and compiled by Paramjeet Singh with a Foreword by Rana Nayar, the collection lists 100 books in autobiography, novel, poetry, plays and short story collections. ‘Skeena’ is one of the 32 novels, and, an excellent book review earlier written by UK Author Rupinderpal Roop Singh Dhillon at SikhChic has been published by way of description. View Roop’s review here:
It is a compelling selection as ‘Skeena’ is Pakistani Punjab’s all time best-selling Punjabi novel; the most-reviewed Punjabi book in modern Punjabi literature; and, it is the only Punjabi book to have ever been launched in nine cities of Pakistan where each event was presented in partnership with local organizations and all the book launches were used to support a strong program for the enhancement of Punjabi language.
‘Legacies of the Homeland’ lists the books that have been published in both Punjabi and English. Order it here:
I’m delighted to be a part of this selection. Indeed it is an honor to have my name in one of the 28 novelists listed. Thank you Paramjeet Singh.
Holier Than Life
It’s a Best-Seller!
‘I am delighted to share with you the news that my first novel Skeena has become ‘the most-sold Punjabi novel’ of all times in Pakistan. In an email message, Publisher Amjad Salim Minhas said that ‘Sakina is the most sold Punjabi novel Sanjh has ever published; it is also the most sold Punjabi novel in Pakistan’.
This best-selling Shahmukhi Punjabi edition was published in 2007, and it was the most-launched book in Pakistan with events held in nine cities, each in partnership with local writers and literary organisations. This also made it the ‘most reviewed Punjabi book‘; and, the only novel that brought the movement for Punjabi language rights to the fore at each of its launching events.
‘It is interesting to note that Author Anthony Dalton’s 2011 predictions about Skeena’s English edition are sl–ow–ly but surely coming to pass in Punjabi, though we still have to see how the Gurmukhi edition does in the Indian Punjab where Skeena has never been published or marketed.
‘My gratitude to the readers, reviewers, peers; the publisher, editor, all members of the production team; and, the funders and supporters of Skeena’s Shahmukhi Punjabi edition for this profound and rewarding experience.
First published at
Younas Khan who i had met at Skeena’s Sargodha launch in 2007, was kind enough to post a comment on ‘Kishwar Naheed on Skeena’.
‘Skeena definitely is a valuable novel, and i agree that most readers have read it at least three times. First to become fluent in Punjabi, second to understand Skeena, and the third time to enjoy the novel. I also read it twice in 2008.
‘Your reportage of Kishwar Naheed is beautiful.
‘When Shehla Nigar, who is working on her phd thesis, wanted my opinion about Skeena, i asked her to first tell me what she thought about the novel since i had read it six years back. Her instant response was: ‘She is a rebel’. I was unable to contain my appreciation, and i told her that in just three words she has described the essence of Skeena’s character. I told her that i am also impressed with two others, a homosexual character and Iqbal Singh but of course Skeena being the central character dominates.
‘This is a high quality novel, and the first Punjabi novel that i read with passion. This novel should have been in Urdu, if it was written in Urdu it would have had a larger readership and would be counted among the few big Urdu novels. However, it has been written and presented with confidence like a big-budget Indian Punjabi film.
‘I don’t know the history of Punjabi novel but i know that Skeena is a huge contribution to Punjabi literature. It has been written in common spoken Punjabi, the one spoken in our cities, the Punjabi that is understood by the literate and sentient culture of Punjab.
‘I am lucky that i was able to have a short conversation with you in Sargodha, and you had autographed my copy of Skeena with love.
‘I keep Skeena like a treasure. I want to read it again even when i hardly ever read a book again. Skeena is a great addition to punjabi literature, and it will live for a long long time.’
Many thanks to you, Younas Khan, for your thoughts and words (view Younas’s original comment in Punjabi: kishwar-naheed-on-skeena/#comment). For me, they affirm that indeed Skeena is not a newspaper. Skeena’s Urdu version will come out in the next couple of years. And yes, i too have your autograph with autographs of other friends from Sargodha, the launch where the most beautiful review of Skeena was presented (that i subsequently managed to lose; that you had recently promised to try to ‘re-cover’ from the Author’s memory).
Looking forward to see Shehla Nigar’s contemplation on Skeena.