WATCHING TELEVISION FOOTAGE OF REFUGEES streaming west by their thousands, along the highways of Hungary toward the Austrian border, my first thoughts are about my mother. She made a similar trek, 69 years ago almost to the day, when she was only six. I see her in the girl raised by her father above the fray at the Bicske railway station in Budapest, or holding tight onto her mother’s hand in the throngs filling a nighttime road, led by men using their cellphone GPS to find the way. She too was fleeing war — or more exactly, walking through the heart of it, as what had been the Indian Raj was violently split into India and Pakistan.
Read the full article over at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Much that happens in the writing world is supported by people who do it just for the love of art — as those of us who write so often do. So here’s a shout out to the fine people at indianshortstoryinenglish.com — and their excellent work in putting together a compendium of what’s happening right now in the Indian short story form (as practiced by those who write in English). You can check out my page by clicking here, or on the image below, and search through the site to find some really fine writers of the form.
Back in 2011, when I was stuck in New Delhi and didn’t know what to do with myself, I decided to take a trip to Ladakh for the summer. Little did I know the journey itself would be as wild as anything I found when I reached the ancient Himalayan kingdom. Over at Terrain.org, I tell the story of that sometimes harrowing journey. One day maybe I’ll tell the story of all that happened when I finally arrived. Read it here.
Just up on Salon.com, my new essay. If anyone is wondering, this is not a story — the account is purely factual. Check it out here.
It was the first days of the new year, and thrumming through the soles of my feet was that distinctive, hard-driving rhythm—the dhol drum singing out its bhangra beat. The dance floor was small, swallowed whole in a corner of the underground ballroom, but we were all crowded onto it, celebrating the closing night of the wedding. The speakers strained and gaudy lights painted our bodies in splashes of color and soon, after leaving the dance floor, I watched as a young Indian man newly arrived from a Midwestern city stammered across the ballroom toward a girl he claimed he loved with the simple plan of asking her to dance.He’d come here with friends, three young men looking to discover India, reconnect with their roots, learn something of the land their parents came from. In a minute, he’d be sprawled across the floor, his face streaming blood and I’d be racing toward his attacker, a relative of mine, who now hoisted a heavy steel chair high over his head and was about to bring it down with all his might and crush the foreigner’s skull.
For readers in India, the wonderful folk at HarperCollins are putting out e-singles for the Kindle in a new, and beautifully designed, series called Harper 21. The current batch focus on the short story form, and they’ve included my story “The Consul’s Wife.” If you’re in India, and own a Kindle, it’s a mere 21 rupees, which is a steal by any standard. Click here to purchase.
Read an extended excerpt from the title story over at The Aerogram.
That night she dreamed of a naked old man in a cowboy hat hopping cross-legged from one feathery cloud to another while his knees streamed blood and his limp penis flopped menacingly between his hairy thighs. The dream must mean something and she told herself to write it down and think on it, though she never did, and a week later, trying to recall it, all she could remember was a floating cowboy hat taunting her from the heavens. The memory held an erotic charge, though why, Lovedeep could not say.
In my view, one of the central purposes of art is to unsettle, and to destabilize our own fixed notions of who we are, and who our fellow humans are. If, after having read this collection, the ground is a little more unsteady under the reader’s feet, then I’ve done my job. There’s something of the natural provocateur in me, and I get bored when everyone is going along nicely and not questioning the larger structures of their own lives. So I do hope that it provokes, and that it reaches those people who are at the moment sitting a little too comfortably in their own lives.