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I wrote about a terrific upcoming historical novel, Loot, by Tania James for NPR’s 2023 Summer Books List. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated all of James’ books, and this is one of my favorite historical novels of the year. (Note: We had to stay within a word count limit. My slightly longer, first-submitted version is further below.)
“The legendary Tipu Sultan, Tiger of Mysore, was killed by British armies in 1799. Among his many creations was a life-size wooden tiger automaton mauling a British soldier. Tania James’ latest novel, Loot, gives us a spirited imagining of this tiger’s origins and how the British besieged and looted Tipu’s capital. With carefully engineered plotlines and epigrammatic flourishes, James molds the tiger’s fascinating, fictional journey from India to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum — and the singular lives of those who were connected with it. It’s a historical novel I’ve been looking forward to because it subtly problematizes the very historicity of what has been enshrined in the grand halls of eternal record.”
First submitted, slightly longer version:
“When the legendary Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, was finally killed by British armies in 1799, they exclaimed, “Now India is ours,” and proclaimed a public holiday in Britain. Among this pioneer’s many scientific innovations and economic developments, there was a wooden automaton of a tiger mauling a British soldier. He commissioned it to express his hatred of the colonizers, and it continues to be a regular attraction within the ‘Imperial Courts of South India’ exhibit in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Tania James’ latest novel, Loot, gives us a spirited imagining of this mechanical tiger’s origins and how the British besieged and looted Tipu’s capital. With well-molded plotlines and epigrammatic flourishes, James shapes a fascinating journey across India, England, and France of the symbolic tiger and the singular lives of those who devised or were connected with it. This is historical fiction as it should be: a carefully engineered rendering that subtly problematizes the very historicity of what has been enshrined in the grand halls of eternal record.”
PS Sadly, NPR’s long-running ‘Books We Love’ series, which I’ve been contributing to these past years, is on hiatus due to funding issues. So I might write about the rest of the amazing books I’m reading (or planning to) in my newsletters.
Here’s the latest WAAT newsletter. This fall, I will start a Ph.D. program in Literature and Translation Studies at the University of Texas in Dallas, Texas. Here are some thoughts about the whys and wherefores.
A quick note about social media: the algorithms are getting worse for me because I’m not feeding them anymore. So my posts are becoming less visible here. The newsletter is free, and I have a firm no-spam policy. If you like, you can sign up to get it in your inbox. Click to read and/or subscribe. Thanks.
This is a new anthology of eight short stories and eight narrative essays depicts diverse facets of the South Asian experience in the American South.
Some of them relate to the proverbial longing for what the immigrants have left behind, while others spotlight the immigrants’ struggles to reconcile with realities they did not sign up for.
Available in April 2023.
Read more details and an excerpt of my included short story here.
Lovely to find my 6-week Magical Realism workshop at Writing Workshops Dallas featured in this list at Reedsy. I’ve been teaching this online workshop since 2021 and am currently in the tenth edition. I so enjoy reading and writing this genre (especially when it’s combined with my other favorite genre, Historical Fiction, which I also teach.) These are workshops I wanted when I was working on my first story collection during the 2015-2017 period. I couldn’t find them at the time, so I created my own syllabi and exercises with selected essays and stories to learn the craft. Some of these are still a part of this workshop, but I do add new stuff with each edition. More details about both workshops, including participant testimonials, are here.
PS I will most likely cut back on the frequency of these workshops once I start my Ph.D. But I hope to be able to continue them. Let’s see.
Next upcoming and open workshop at Writing Workshops Dallas.
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