A growing focus in my life and work has been on issues which immigrants face while living in countries foreign to them, as well as with the countries they no longer call home. In this novel project in particular, I’ve chosen to focus on the concept of belonging—both the human need and desire to belong, and on the emotional reality when, for any number of reasons, one feels they do not. This feeling is, of course, universally relatable and reaches far beyond the immigrant experience, but it happens to carry particular importance and resonance—even urgency—here, within the context of geographic dispersion and displacement, especially in light of recent and ongoing migrant and refugee crises. The questions my novel explores are therefore centered here: how does one attain the security of feeling of belonging to a place or a people? What are its prerequisites, how is it negotiated, what is its threshold? In the case of migration, what is the alternative when you feel you belong neither to the place you’ve left behind, nor to the place you’ve ended up? How is it possible to live with uncertainty and insecurity, when you find yourself in the indeterminate space between?
While At Headlands
While at Headlands I hope to continue work on my first novel, as-yet untitled, about a young Indian orphan, Anik, adopted by a pair of American scientists working in the border jungles of Arunachal Pradesh—a remote part of northeast India pinched between China, Tibet, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar—in the early 1990s. Soon after departing on a joint expedition, the couple—Ronan, a linguistic anthropologist, and Elisabeth, an ethnobotanist hunting for an undocumented species—disappear and are never heard from again. Anik, as a result, is relocated to England and enrolled into a boarding school, eventually resettling in New York as a young man, where the novel opens in 2003. When he discovers that someone might have evidence concerning his adoptive parents he finds himself called back to India, to learn the fate of Elisabeth and Ronan thirteen years before, as well as the connected mystery surrounding his origin.
“Not a Bad Bunch”, 2014. Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading
“Bread & Buttery Story”, 2013. Pioneer Magazine
“Eaten”, 2011. Joyland