Amitava Kumar is a writer and journalist. He was born in Ara, and grew up in the nearby town of Patna, famous for its corruption, crushing poverty, and delicious mangoes. Kumar is the author of several books of nonfiction and a novel. He lives in Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, where he is Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. In 2016, Amitava Kumar was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (General Nonfiction) as well as a Ford Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists.
The young man is Kailash, from India. His new American friends call him Kalashnikov, AK-47, AK. He takes it all in his stride: he wants to fit in–and more than that, to shine. In the narrative of his years at a university in New York, AK describes the joys and disappointments of his immigrant experience; the unfamiliar political and social textures of campus life; the indelible influence of a charismatic professor–also an immigrant, his personal history as dramatic as AK’s is decidedly not; the very different natures of the women he loved; and of himself in and out of love with each of them. Telling his own story, AK is both meditative and the embodiment of the enthusiasm of youth in all its idealism and chaotic desires. His wry, vivid perception of the world he’s making his own, and the brilliant melding of story and reportage, anecdote and annotation, picture and text, gives us a singularly engaging, insightful, and moving novel–one that explores the varieties and vagaries of cultural misunderstanding, but is, as well, an impassioned investigation of love.
Sharmila Sen grew up in Calcutta, India, and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve. She was educated in the public schools of Cambridge, Mass., received her A.B. from Harvard and her Ph.D. from Yale in English literature. As an assistant professor at Harvard she taught courses on literatures from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean for seven years. Currently, she is executive editor-at-large at Harvard University Press. Sharmila has lived and worked in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. She has lectured around the world on postcolonial literature and culture and published essays on racism and immigration. Sharmila resides in Cambridge, Mass., with her architect husband and their three children.
Not Quite Not White
At the age of 12, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to the U.S. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race – on INS forms, at the doctor’s office, in middle school. Never identifying with a race in the India of her childhood, she rejects her new “not quite” designation – not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian — and spends much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years trying to assimilate–watching shows like General Hospital and The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran and Prince, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts–she is forced to reckon with the hard questions: What does it mean to be white, why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility while other colors are made hypervisible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness?
Part memoir, part manifesto, Not Quite Not White is a searing appraisal of race and a path forward for the next not quite not white generation –a witty and sharply honest story of discovering that not-whiteness can be the very thing that makes us American.
Fatima Farheen Mizra was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.
A Place for Us
The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity and belonging.
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made.
There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride.
What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?
A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children — each in their own way — tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.
A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today.
Alka Kurian is an American-British-Indian academic and writer. Born and raised in India, she taught French at a small, northeastern university in England for fifteen years. Tired of the triangulation of a woman of color teaching a first world language to first world students, she switched her career to postcolonial literature and film. She is interested in surfacing in her writing the grittiness of the lived reality of professional South Asian women in the diaspora, something that tends to get swamped under racial or model-minority stereotypes.
Set in England wracked by Brexit and the social and political turmoil that ensues, her novel manuscript A Bitter Inheritance is a story of Maya’s struggle to flee from her brilliant but abusive husband Siddhartha. Vicariously living through his wife and daughter Ria, forcing them to excel and perform way beyond their human capacities, Siddhartha buckles and cracks under the weight of his narcissism, fear, and self-imposed social ostracization.
Pramila Venkateswaran, poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island, is author of Thirtha (Yuganta Press, 2002), Behind Dark Waters (Plain View Press, 2008), Draw Me Inmost (Stockport Flats, 2009), Trace (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Thirteen Days to Let Go (Aldrich, 2015), andSlow Ripening (Local Gems, 2016).
Her poems have been published widely in the United States, Canada, and India in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, Atlanta Review, and Kavya Bharati, and in award-winning anthologies, such as Indivisible: An Anthology of South Asian American Poetry.
She is Professor of English at Nassau Community College (SUNY), is actively involved in giving workshops and readings across Long Island and beyond, and is the co-founder of Euterpe, the poetry venue in Emma Clark Memorial Library. She is the co-director of Matwaala South Asian diaspora poetry festival. Her latest book is The Singer of Alleppey (Shanti Arts, 2018).
Sonora Jha was born in India, where she had a successful career as a journalist in Mumbai and Bangalore before moving to Singapore and then the United States to earn a Ph.D. in Political Communication. She is now a professor of journalism at Seattle University. Her first novel, Foreign, brought together her work as a journalist, an academic, and a creative writer. She is the 2016-18 Writer in Residence at the Richard Hugo House and is an alumna and Board President for Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat. She is currently writing a book of essays about how to raise a feminist son and is working on a second novel. Sonora lives in Seattle.
Sonora Jha will be reading from her novel-in-progress: The Wolf Who Cried Boy
SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Sindu’s first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Debut Fiction, was selected by the American Library Association as a Stonewall Honor Book, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the VCU First Novelist Award. She is also the author of the hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, which won the Split Lip Press Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. Her work has been published in Brevity, LitHub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Normal School, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and other journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at Ringling College of Art and Design.
Marriage of a Thousand Lies
Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.
As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.
Sasha Duttchoudhury has been published in “T.I.P.S. to Study Abroad: Simple Letter for Complex Engagement” (2014) and “Moving Truth(s)” (2015). Sasha has participated in VONA (2016) and currently is staff at the University of Washington.
Mita Balani was born in a small town of India and has been living in the United States for several years. Growing up, she cherished writing stories and reciting poems. In engineering college, where most of her classmates published technical papers, she enjoyed taking part in storytelling contests, debates, and poetry competitions. Today she has a successful career in Information Technology, but she still loves writing stories and poems. Breaking Norms is her first foray into writing a novel. This novel is inspired from parts of a true story. Life experiences of an Indian origin lesbian friend living in the United States inspired her to write this story.
Indu Sundaresan will be leading a creative writing workshop. Visit schedule for details on how to sign up for the workshop.
Indu Sundaresan was born and brought up in India, on Air Force bases around the country. By day, her father was a fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force, and, an avid storyteller by night. He told her stories of India’s kings and queens and took her to roam around the magnificent palaces and forts where they lived. It was better than being in a classroom.
After college, Indu came to the U.S. for graduate school and has an M.A. in economics and an M.S. in Operations Research. She began writing novels and short stories soon after. Her first two novels were practice runs, and they taught her how to write a book—beginning, middle, and end. And then, she wrote her first published novel, The Twentieth Wife.
She is the author of six books so far: the three novels of the Taj trilogy, The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses and Shadow Princess; a collection of short stories, In the Convent of Little Flowers; a novel set in India during four days in May of 1942 titled The Splendor of Silence; and, a novel based on the Kohinoor diamond, The Mountain of Light.
The Twentieth Wife won the Washington State Book Award and has been converted into a 42 episode television series called Siyaasat. It’s airing (with subtitles) on Netflix in most countries.
Indu is also the recipient of the Light of India award for Excellence in Literature. Her work has been translated into some 23 languages worldwide. The translation that makes her the happiest and proud is that of the Taj trilogy novels in Tamil, her mother tongue, translated by her mother, Madhuram Sundaresan, and published by Vanathi Pathipaggam in Chennai, India.
She lives in the Seattle, Washington area with her husband and her daughter.
Sohrab Homi Fracis and Allan Marcil will be leading a workshop on film adaptation. Visit schedule for further details.
Sohrab Homi Fracis is the first Asian author and still the only South Asian author to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award, juried through the legendary Iowa Writers’ Workshop and described by the New York Times Book Review as “among the most prestigious literary prizes America offers.” And there’s nothing wrong with a little controversy, but just to put one to rest, that also makes him the first Asian American to win the award.
In 2004 Sohrab was Visiting Writer in Residence at Augsburg College, Minneapolis; in 2006 he was an artist in residence at Escape to Create, Seaside Institute, Florida; in 2007 he was an artist in residence at the renowned art colony of Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York; and Yaddo selected him once again in 2010. In 2013 he was invited to read at The New School, New York, NY and lead a fiction workshop for students at the Eugene Lang College of Arts. In 2014 he was invited to read in Jacksonville’s own literary event, Jax by Jax. In 2015, he read at Orlando’s premier reading series, There Will Be Words.
With Go Home coming out in time for the 2016 US elections, more appearances lined up: University of North Florida’s Word by Word reading series; SALA (South Asian Literary Association) Conference in Philadelphia; AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference 2017 in Washington D.C. and then AWP 2018 in Tampa. The novel was a finalist for the International Book Awards and, in novella form, for the ScreenCraft Cinematic Story Contest. It was shortlisted (top 15) by Stanford University Libraries for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. He received the 2017 SALA Distinguished Achievement Award for Creative Writing.
Sohrab Homi Fracis’s debut novel Go Home is the story of a Parsi foreign student in Delaware, who in the turbulent wake of the Iran hostage crisis can’t distinguish his redneck oppressors from his Deadhead neighbors
Allan Marcil and Sohrab Homi Fracis will be leading a workshop on film adaptation. Visit schedule for further details.
Allan Marcil launched his Film and TV career in the graduate film program at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Subsequently, Marcil developed a producing and writing career in both film and television, where he has produced, executive produced and created over 100 hours of award winning and/or nominated television. Marcil, with his then partner in Stonehenge Productions, Richard Berg, pioneered the mini-series format with productions that included A Rumor of War, the first Television drama to examine the Vietnam War, based on Philip Caputo’s celebrated memoir, James Michener’s SPACE, Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story. Marcil has also produced a number of provocative and award-winning movies-for television and has worked extensively with literary artists such as Elmore Leonard, Norman Mailer, Philip Caputo, Israel Horovitz, and Peter Benchley in developing material for the medium.
Shobha Rao moved to the United States from India at the age of seven. She is the author of the short story collection, An Unrested Woman, and the novel, Girls Burn Brighter. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by T.C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She is currently the Grace Paley Teaching Fellow at The New School in New York City.
Girls Burn Brighter
A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America about the EXTRAORDINARY BOND BETWEEN TWO GIRLS driven apart by circumstances but relentless in their search for one another.
Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them. They are poor. They are driven. And they are girls.
When Poornima was just a toddler, she was about to fall into a river. Her mother, beside herself, screamed at her father to grab her. But he hesitated: “I was standing there, and I was thinking…She’s just a girl. Let her go…That’s the thing with girls, isn’t it…You think, Push. That’s all it would take. Just one little push.”
After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to take care of her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to secure for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.
Chaitali Sen is a writer and educator based in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, The Pathless Sky, was published by Europa Editions in 2015. Short stories, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Brooklyn Magazine, Catapult, Chicago Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Ecotone, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, New Ohio Review, and many other publications. She is a graduate of the Hunter College MFA program in Fiction and founder of the interview series, Borderless: Conversations in Art, Action, and Justice. She is at work on her second novel.
The Pathless Sky
In The Pathless Sky, Chaitali Sen conjures a world in which a nation’s political turmoil, its secret history, and growing social unrest turn life into a fragile and capricious thing and love into a necessary refuge to be defended at all cost. A world, that is, not unlike the one we live in. John, a hapless young student with a potentially brilliant academic career ahead of him, and Mariam, a shy, preternaturally perceptive woman from the north, fall in love in college. Their early careers, their seemingly mismatched natures, and the alarming changes occurring in their country conspire to keep them apart for years. But a day comes when, across a great distance, both realize that they have always loved each other. During the intervening years, however, the troubles in their country have reached a critical impasse. Government crimes have been whitewashed, personal liberty is deeply compromised, a resistance movement has emerged from the underground to take the fight for freedom to the streets, and the government militia employs increasingly draconian measures in an attempt to maintain control.
The Pathless Sky is a haunting and moving novel for readers of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, and the novels of Amitav Ghosh. Sen’s lyrical language and fluid storytelling mirror the rhythms of political struggle itself. John and Mariam are unforgettable characters, troubled lovers who struggle to find a space for the finest human emotions in a place that is determined to abolish them.
A.K. Asif was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States in 1989. He is a medical oncologist by profession, but his other interests include writing, literature, history, religion, mysticism and philosophy. His novel Hell! No Saints in Paradise combines these interests in one work, published by Harper Collins India in 2016. He is currently working on his next novel.
2018/19 Youth Poet Laureate Azura Tyabji will be reading from her latest poetry. See the schedule for more details.
Born and raised in Seattle, Azura Mizan Tyabji is honored to serve as its 2018/19 Youth Poet Laureate. As a writer, spoken word performer, facilitator, and educator, what motivates every aspect of her artistic practice is a love for community, justice, and healing. If her words leave you feeling hopeful, empowered, or thinking deeper, she has achieved her goal as a poet. She hopes to continue challenging and expanding her craft and giving back to the city that inspires her. She is 18 years old and a graduate from Nova High School.
Ananya Garg is a young queer poet and spoken word performance artist. She is slowly learning to heal and shine. She sees her QTPOC arts community as a central force in her healing process and hopes her words can be a part of your healing. She has appeared in Tasveer’s 2018 Yoni Ki Baat, directed by Uma Rao, Tasveer’s Subcontinental Drift, and Yoni Ki Baat 2018 in San Francisco at the Tenderloin Museum. She has also appeared in the ASUW Womxn’s Action Commission’s “The ____ Monologues,” Lavish: A QTPOC Arts Showcase hosted by the Q Center at the University of Washington, the Viva La Healing Conference at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre, and more. She currently works as Director of the ASUW Queer Student Commission at the University of Washington. Stay up to date with Ananya’s performances, writing, and more at ananyagarg.com.
Vik Bahl is co-author of a collection of poetry, Scoundrels of Deferral: Poems to Redeem Reflection. His current book-in-progress is entitled Cultures of Desire: Suturing the Ruptures of Modernity, growing out of a course he teaches at Green River College (Auburn, WA) where he is faculty in the English department. The book facilitates critical examination of various cultural representations and experiences of desires, including those related to romantic love, tradition, identity, community, the body, work, commodities, justice, cultural others, the erotic, spirituality, and nature. As a 1.5 generation immigrant from India, Vik has navigated the complexities of desire, identity, and belonging on behalf of a politically engaged life that takes on the responsibilities of collective cultural and institutional transformation. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on ethnic and postcolonial literatures, cultural studies, and social movements.
Vik is committed to strengthening the role of community colleges in empowering systemically non-dominant populations by providing access to higher education, notably through the Green River Diversity & Equity Council (GDEC) and Diversity & Equity in Hiring & Professional Development (DEHPD). Other organizations of which he has been a part include Acción Zapatista, the Independent Media Center (IMC), University Beyond Bars (UBB), the Toyin Falola Center for the Study of Africa (TFCSA), and the Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy (CCRA).
I am an immigrant, activist, long-distance son, teacher, and person of color living in America. I create voice to tell others’ stories and my own with the integrity and fire they deserve. My day job working to protect the civil liberties of America’s many underclasses is one way I move that work forward; my writing and teaching are another. My poetry explores identity, belonging, and power in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. I tell stories of mythology and technology, transformation and love.
My upbringing informs my voice. I grew up around the world, experiencing change—sometimes cataclysmic—in societies as diverse as the USSR, the Maldives, India, Yugoslavia, Thailand, South Africa, and of course, the United States. I have worked in prisons on three continents, exchanging ideas with those incarcerated by their societies. I frequently interact with the architects of the technological revolution that is transforming all of our futures.
I write to memorialize, to witness moments of beauty and terror, to connect with the divine, to bridge the chasm between my two homelands, and to survive the madness of the world. I hope to build a community that perseveres and even thrives.
Shankar Narayan will be reading his latest book Postcards from the New World (2018). See schedule for more details