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Read "The Culture," a Novel Excerpt Contest Runner-Up!

In February, we challenged you to submit a 400-word excerpt from your NaNoWriMo novels. From over 600 fantastic entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! (For more excerpts, check out this forum thread.)

"The Culture" by Shinmayi

Exhausted from running from the palace patrol officers, Ilham found himself at the kingdom’s outskirts nearing rogue lands, where his people had been pushed. They still kept a sense of community, regardless of how badly they’d been subjugated. Distressingly, the new global rule would just worsen life for people in every sector.

Ilham thought less of it, sauntering into the stale village he frequented, yet he still kept his dust shield up to protect himself. While walking past homes, he heard an old man call his name with a strong phlegmy emphasis on the ilh. A wide grin spread on Ilham’s face as he moved towards the elder gentleman.

“As-salaam alaikum” Ilham greeted the man, kneeling down to his seated level and taking down his dust shield.

“Wa-alaikum salam, boy. I just wanted to say thank you for the grain and coins. These people greatly appreciate it.” the senior said gratefully.

Ilham wanted to feign confusion or dismiss the man's thankfulness. Instead, he decided to honour it.

“It’s my pleasure.” Ilham said while placing his right hand over his heart.

The man happily held both sides of Illham’s face between his hand like a Shakespearean skull and cleared his throat, beginning to pull something out from behind him. Ilham tensed for a moment before the man started to speak again.

“This was a book of mine my mother managed to keep when they had our languages taken away. It’s in English,” the man said wearily, “but in the middle, there is a whole chapter written in Arabic.”

The man tightened his grip on Ilham’s face slightly, saying “I've heard about you. Fruit sellers in the markets tell me, 'This boy, always used to have his nose in a book, even when he was out and about!' And I suppose you haven’t had the means to continue this on your own in recent years. Here," the man swiftly continued, "take this book, and read it well."

The man placed the spine of the dusty book in Ilham's hands and clasped them with his own. Ilham realized with a chuckle that the man didn't notice he was blind. Perhaps he hadn't noticed the scars gracing his eyes or the unnerving white of his irises and pupils.

"They tell you a lot, huh?" Ilham didn't correct the man. He thanked him, placed a kiss on the elder’s forehead, and walked away.

author photo

Shinmayi is a young and aspiring poet and writer. In her spare time she also likes to read and do photography. When she is not pestering her family with philosophical questions and her friends with hypothetical story ideas, she enjoys taking walks and admiring nature. She lives near Toronto, Canada and is a junior in high school. While she has not published anything yet, she hopes to one day become a published author.

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