Book Title: From An-Other Land by Tanushree Ghosh
Adult Fiction, 224 pages | Readomania Publishing
Release date: December 4, 2018 | Format available: print & ebook
Tour dates: March 18 to April 5, 2019
Content Rating: PG + M (It has mature themes in the backdrop in some stories, but doesn't have explicit language or description)
Never has been the conversation on immigration more pertinent than now, post 2016 US elections. From cancellation of refugee protection and zero tolerance to undercurrent crackdown on H visas to the border wall - the resurgence of nationalism is hitting the globalized population head-on.
But what is immigration today? A question of life or death - fleeing of persecution? A compulsion? Or a mere pursuance of privilege? And what is the US today? A land of opportunities? Or a quagmire impossible to comprehend, inherently racist and selfish?
From An-Other Land dives deep into immigration today for the diaspora and its many facets with characters who seek to define themselves in an intercultural setting that is less and less sure of itself. A reality check and a guide for anyone who wants to understand the modern-day US.
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Guest Post: Q.: What was your toughest character to write and why?
From An-Other Land has eleven protagonists portrayed, with their stories coming together and connecting in the beginning and end. This was a deliberate choice, for I sincerely wanted to capture the layers and nuances of an experience like immigration – of those who immigrate and those who make space amongst them for the immigrants – and didn’t want to skimp on that restricted by points of views and protagonists. So there is no dearth of choice to pick from when asked to outline who was the toughest character to write.
But still, the answer is relatively easy for me. Meera (Meera, From An-Other Land), a Punjabi village woman who gets pulled into a ploy of divorcing her husband and marrying his brother, with the goal of gaining US citizenship and therefore an ability to move her husband to the US, and Mani (Under the Seventh Tree, From An-Other Land) who exploits racial stereotypes in the US to get her husband murdered and then plunges into a role-model role, were the toughest.
Not only did I have to go back to the drawing board multiple time while crafting them – thinking and re-thinking how the character would behave in a certain scenario, how their face would look, what they would be doing with their hands (I even rehearsed in front of my bathroom mirror, stepping away from my computer to observe and find language to portray the exact behavior) etc., their stories and characters (both like all other stories in the collection have a ‘truth seed' as the inciting incidence in them) haunted me before, through and after the writing process. This will sound a cliché, but I truly believe I became Meera and Mani several times, and probably still have them somewhere in me, in my own non-fiction life.
Also, my goal in writing this story was showcase how every person we encounter around us are same and unique at the same time. But that can’t be achieved I feel if the writer can’t truly feel the uniqueness of the character (the similarity part always comes easily out, at least to me, while I am putting myself in the scenarios the character faces). So I spent significant time standing in Walmart parking lots, observing people, trying to understand, not depict, what would go through Mani’s head seeing a black, homeless man, which I am not being able to think.
Same applies to Meera – a dutiful wife and daughter-in-law, whose view point and priorities in these aspects (being none of those myself) – remained foreign to me until I forced myself to experience realities, values, upbringing, close to someone like hers.
In the end, it’s the growth that happens to us when having to put ourselves in the stories, is the most rewarding part of writing in my opinion. And Meera and Mani helped me grow in leaps and bounds.
Tanushree Ghosh works in Tech and has a Doctorate in Chemistry from the Cornell University. She is also a social activist and writer. Her blog posts, op-eds, poems, and stories are in effort to provoke thoughts, especially towards issues concerning women and social justice.
She is a contributor (past and present) to several popular e-zines (incl. The Huffington Post US, The Logical Indian, Youth Ki Awaaz, Tribune India, Women’s Web, and Cafe Dissensus). Her literary resume includes poems and stories featured in national and international magazines (Words Pauses and Noises, UK; TUCK, Glimmer Train Honorable mention) as well as inclusion in seven anthologies such as Defiant Dreams (Oprah 2016 reading list placeholder) and The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 (published out of Singapore by Kitaab). Her first single author book, From An-Other Land is on immigration.
She has held different leadership roles in non-profits (ASHA and AID India) and is the founder and director of Her Rights (www.herrights.website), a 501(3) c non-profit committed to furthering the cause of gender equality. She is often an invited speaker or panelist for both corporate and non-profit endeavors.
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