So busy, so full of art and dirt and food and hunger, so hot (art again, pretty people, trendspotting), so cold (I love my coat and the hat-scarf my mother made for me), and so much fun!
I landed at JFK at 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday; was welcomed with frigid air, a warm car, and a home-cooked aloo-gobi sabzi; danced with the stars and (mostly) their friends at Basement Bhangra; re-learned the subways; and entered a whirlwind of activities as part of the weekend SAWCC Literary Festival, “Stranger Love.”
As I embark on my own book tour, I was interested to see how two experienced South Asian American authors, Jhumpa Lahiri and Suketu Mehta, held forth on their work in almost opposite ways. Jhumpa was reserved and is an obviously very private person, so her stage conversation with author/journalist Sugi Ganeshananthan revealed few surprises. I did like what Jhumpa said about writing: “Books are my religion, but I dare to write them.”
Suketu and I, along with a third journalist/author, S. Mitra Kalita, were on a panel together that was moderated by the lovely Pooja Makhijani. (By the way, I’m including links so you can check out all these authors; Pooja’s site also has great recommendations for teachers and parents, as she is a children’s author among other her talents.) Suketu was funny and personable, told stories about interviewing torturers and assassins, and seemed extremely comfortable talking about his book.
Later, at the closing evening reading, I was part of a lineup of great writers/performers and got to wear my tiara. I enjoyed every minute, even though by that time I was exhausted after several late nights in a row. The audience was sweet, enthusiastic, and large! I had an amazing time at the festival and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends as well as meeting new people. It was such a privilege to land and have an immediate connection to the strong, vibrant, South Asian women’s artistic community here.
Amid all that, I didn’t have a chance to mention to anyone that I posted a few days ago about the inner workings of my book promotion process on this group blog … so if you’re interested in the deep background, you can read all about it now!
I also did an interview with this online publication (click on page 1 and then page 16 to read both parts), aimed at readers in Gujarat, where my family originates. The headline refers to me as an “NRG Author,” and it took me a minute to realize that the abbreviation stands for Non-Resident Gujarati. Very amusing.
This week, I am guest-lecturing at an NYU comparative diasporas seminar, meeting with my agent and editor, socializing, sending millions of emails, fielding inquiries, and generally getting ready for next week’s launch/travel/media extravaganza. I’ve updated my events page with more details, a new San Francisco event in May, and several public radio shows. Both the Leonard Lopate show (NY, 3/23) and Against the Grain (Berkeley, 3/25) are call-in shows… so please call me!