With over 2,800 entries overall, there were 35 Honorable Mentions, 8 of them in the Genre Fiction category.
“With its exotic setting, engaging writing, and intriguing story about a strong heroine living during a challenging time in history, The Fig Orchard by Layla Fiske will please readers looking for a deep story . . . reminiscent of authors such as Amy Tan . . . This author clearly has writing talent. I found this talent shown not only by the author’s choice of words, [and] the way the sentences flow . . . but also . . . [in] . . . the way she handled her story and setting . . . the story is so timeless and we immediately care about the characters . . . I admire how the author shows the time and place having an unmistakable and unavoidable effect on the characters . . . they were easily relatable to anyone with a heart. I hope this author will continue to write books. Excellent work.”
— Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
The Fig Orchard takes home the San Diego Book Awards 2014 Theodor S. Geisel Award for Best Published Book, and wins the Award for Best Published Historical Fiction. The San Diego Book Awards Association is dedicated to enriching the large, diverse and vibrant literary community while promoting literacy in the nation's third largest county. This award was featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune's Sunday Arts and Culture Section — "Grandmother's Perseverance Inspired Local Author," where author, Layla Fiske, discusses her inspiration for writing her novel, and what it was like growing up in an American household steeped in Middle Eastern culture.
"Fiske's ambitious novel successfully weaves several subplots into a single, emotionally rich tapestry . . . A sweeping historical epic anchored by a compelling heroine, finely honed historical detail and a fully realized setting." — Kirkus Reviews
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) announced the 2014 Benjamin Franklin Award honorees . . . "We have an extremely strong group of honorees this year," said IBPA Executive Director, Angela Bole. "We received nearly 1,300 entries into the program. The 154 titles selected as honorees are truly the best of the best."
"Fiske tells the story of Nisrina, and her love Jabran, across ages and lands, borders that are created by men and wars, joy and tragedy and most of all, their undying devotion for each other. Alright, so far so good. But the true beauty of Fiske's writing lies not only in the story she tells, a spellbinding and turmoiled tale of Palestine and its people at the turn of the century—much before the "Nakba"—but in the way she tells it. With care and warmth, through lavishly formed sentences that allow the reader to smell the bread baking in the oven, cower with fear at the Ottoman soldiers' cruelty, and all the while feel, feel, feel. I love a work of art that makes me feel, and also manages to teach me something I didn't know before. The Fig Orchard is all that, and more."
—E. Nina Rothe, Huffington Post, 3/14/2014
"I am deeply honored to have been included among a group of powerful and progressive women in today's interview on CBS Radio Women's Media Center, Live with Robin Morgan. I invite you to listen to the podcast at this link. Robin Morgan interviews me 13:48 minutes into the show. Many thanks to the founders of this show, Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem who consistently dedicate themselves to giving voice to women throughout the world."
—Layla Fiske, 1/18/2014