Porter Square Books: Boston Edition and GrubStreet are delighted to present the latest installment of the Grubbie Debut event series, featuring Shilpi Suneja, author of House of Caravans! Prize-winning author Daphne Kalotay will join the author in conversation. This event will take place on Thursday, October 5 at 7pm at Porter Square Books: Boston Edition (50 Liberty Dr. Boston, MA 02210).
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A marvelous debut novel exploring the fractures caused by the Partition of India, as well as the legacy and contemporary parallels of sectarian violence around the world.
Lahore, British India. 1943. As World War rages, resentment of colonial rule grows, and with it acts of rebellion. Animated by idealistic dreams of an independent India, Chhote Nanu agrees to plant a bomb intended for the British superintendent of police. Some four years later, following a torturous imprisonment, Chhote flees the city as it descends into violence. Carrying the young son of his murdered wife through scenes of unspeakable bloodshed, he encounters his brother, Barre Nanu, the two of them caught between a vanishing past in the new nation of Pakistan and a profoundly uncertain future in India. Kanpur, India. 2002. Following the death of his grandfather, Barre Nanu, Karan Khati returns from New York to join his sister in their childhood home, which has been transformed by the embittered Chhote Nanu into a hostel for Hindu pilgrims. When their mother arrives from Delhi, Karan and Ila learn that their fathers were two different men--one Hindu, one Muslim--relationships with both of whom were doomed by familial bias and prejudice, the siblings resolve to reconnect, and to understand the painful twist and turns in the family's story.Moving back and forth from the tumultuous years surrounding Partition to the era of renewed global sectarianism following 9/11, this extraordinary historical novel, "Tolstoyan in its scope" (Ha Jin), portrays a family and nations divided by the living legacy of colonialism. Richly evocative and timely, House of Caravans will endure in the ways only the best literature does.
Shilpi Suneja’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Guernica, McSweeney’s, Cognoscenti, Teachers & Writers Magazine, and Michigan Quarterly Review among others. Her writing has been supported by a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship, a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship, a Grub Street Novel Incubator Scholarship, and she was the Desai fellow at the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She holds an MA in English from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, where she was awarded the Saul Bellow Prize. House of Caravans is her first novel.
A citizen of both Canada and the U.S., Daphne Kalotay grew up in New Jersey and spent her summers in Ontario. She graduated from Vassar College before moving to Massachusetts to attend Boston University’s Creative Writing Program. There, her stories went on to win the school’s Florence Engel Randall Fiction Prize and a Transatlantic Review Award from The Henfield Foundation. She remained at BU to complete a PhD in Modern & Contemporary Literature and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the works of Mavis Gallant. (Her interviews with Mavis Gallant can be read in The Paris Review‘s Writers-At-Work series.)
Daphne has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the Bogliasco Foundation, MacDowell, and Yaddo. Her fiction collection, Calamity and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the 2005 Story Prize, and her debut novel, the national and international bestseller Russian Winter, won the 2011 Writers’ League of Texas Fiction Prize, made the long list for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and has been published in over twenty foreign editions. Daphne’s second novel, Sight Reading, was a Boston Globe bestseller, a finalist for the 2014 Paterson Fiction Prize and winner of the 2014 New England Society Book Award in Fiction. “Relativity,” from her forthcoming collection, was the 2017 One City One Story Boston selection. Her newest novel, Blue Hours, is a 2020 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read.” Her forthcoming fiction collection, The Archivists, won the 2021 Grace Paley Prize and was published in Spring 2023.
Daphne lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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