5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for August 2017

In recent weeks, President Trump’s administration announced major changes to the US immigration system. Politically, immigration in the US has always been a hornet’s nest with both the Left and the Right using conflicting arguments to suit their specific agendas at any given point in time. Brexit has highlighted how immigration has become more than a deep-rooted concern in Europe. In his essay, Reflections on Exile, Edward Said described different immigrant categories — exile, refugee, expatriate, and émigré. Whatever category an immigrant may fall into, he/she has to constantly redefine and renegotiate his/her socio-cultural and geopolitical identities. This ongoing complex, scary, and messy tussle is both personal and political and is often not explicitly understood by even the person trying to cope with it. Here is a stellar collection of short stories  — by Bernard Malamud, Amy Tan, Anzia Yezierska, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Oindrila Mukherjee — revealing and highlighting exactly this dynamic. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for August 2017

marginalia

Marginalia: 10 Indian (or Indian Origin) Women Writers for 2017

Facebook reminds me that last year, about this time, I was complaining about how there were several writers of Indian origin winning literary awards, being reviewed favorably, etc., but all were men. This year, the tide has turned just a bit. Here are some terrific recent releases on my radar by women writers — Indian or of Indian origin. And they have all tackled weighty, important themes beyond immigration/assimilation. Note: I tend to favor the literary adult genre, as you may know if you follow my writing here. Though mostly fiction, the list also has a couple of essay collections and a historical non-fiction book. No short story collections, interestingly, though. Continue reading Marginalia: 10 Indian (or Indian Origin) Women Writers for 2017

Published: On Domestic Abuse and Saving Our Men (Hofstra Windmill Online)

During my years of living and working in Silicon Valley, I met some first-generation Indian immigrant women who, despite their professional achievements, were struggling with their husbands’ anger issues, which ranged from public berating/humiliation to private beatings and more. The usual coping mechanisms for these women are to either make excuses for the men (high-stress jobs, alcohol, etc.) or to blame themselves for being somehow responsible. An Indian woman will rarely walk away from her marriage, especially if the husband is doing well professionally. Her own family is likely to view that as both her failure to hold her marriage together and her short-sightedness for her own financial wellbeing, immigrant status, etc. Additionally, as a society, we certainly do not make it easy for single women to thrive, especially if they also have to raise kids on their own. Continue reading Published: On Domestic Abuse and Saving Our Men (Hofstra Windmill Online)

Booknotes: Writing Women’s Lives

Writing Women’s Lives is an anthology of autobiographical writing of fifty American women writers spanning the entire twentieth century — the first writer here was born in 1860 and the last in 1962. In introducing us to these writers, Susan Cahill, the editor/anthologist, described how their cultural and socio-economic diversity makes them a pleasure to read while also busting many myths around the phenomenon of “woman writer.” And I believe that we, women writers of today, need our models to turn to from time to time — if not to emulate, then to see how we are or could be different. Benchmarks, if you will, that show us whether we have managed to move beyond the traditions set by our predecessors. We also need to know and appreciate the powerful sisterhood to whom we owe so much. Continue reading Booknotes: Writing Women’s Lives

Booknotes: The Bluest Eye

With ‘The Bluest Eye’, Morrison wanted to explore racial self-contempt and how that comes about in us. In the late-60s, when the idea of different kinds of racial beauty was just beginning to be properly articulated and accepted, she wanted to show, through the life of a twelve-year-old girl, Pecola, how concepts like “ugly” become personal and how they shape personality and, therefore, life. Throughout, Morrison has also scrutinized the effects of religion, shame, classism, colonization (of the mind), gender politics, incest, child molestation, etc. To avoid dehumanizing those responsible for creating this kind of mindset in a child, Morrison has given us complex, layered characters who are, to me, almost Dickensian. I say “almost” because it is when describing the worst things that happen to or are done by some of these characters that Morrison surpasses Dickens’ pathos. Her truth is searingly honest but kind, and her kindness carefully extends to both the flaws and the virtues of these men and women. Dickens showed us who people are or can be; Morrison shows us who we are or can be. Continue reading Booknotes: The Bluest Eye