I was born in 1960 in Srirangam, India, and came to the U.S. in 1965, first to St. Louis, MO, and later to Rockland County, NY. I grew up with stories, from the Ramayana and Aesop’s Fables, later to Snow White on the big screen. Hair as black as coal was something I could identify with at least. I started to write, and found I liked it.
In India for my first college year, I studied Fine Arts at Stella Maris College in Madras, now Chennai. I returned to the U.S. to complete my degree at Vassar College and received an MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I had two years at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA as a Fellow (1984-860, and stayed another year to finish my first novel. I worked for the artist Myron Stout as a secretary and reader, and later became an assistant manager at a local art gallery. My first novel, The Journey, set on the fictional Island of Pi, was accepted for publication in 1987 by Alfred A. Knopf, and came out in 1990.
After living in NY and NJ, and working at the Box Office at McCarter Theater in Princeton, I became an itinerant college teacher, in Missouri, San Diego, and Santa Cruz. Granta nominated me for their first Best American Writers campaign, as a regional finalist. My second novel, Inheritance, came out from Secker and Wartburg, UK in 1997, and from Knopf in 1998. I held a Mary Ingraham Bunting Fellowship at Radcliffe College in MA at that time.
While teaching in Southampton, Long Island, I began As Sweet As Honey and completed it in Boulder, CO. It came out from Knopf in 2013, when I moved back to Provincetown after winning an affordable housing residency for former Work Center Fellows by lottery.
English-language editions of my books are variously available from Vintage Books, Beacon Press, Random House e-books, HarperCollinsIndia, Secker & Warburg UK, & Vintage UK. Translations appear in French, German, Greek, and Japanese.
The Journey was selected as one of 52 Finalists in Granta’s 1995 Best Young American Novelists under Forty campaign. Inheritance was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Book.
I teach fiction writing and literature at Emerson College. Previously, I taught at Naropa University; University of Colorado-Boulder; New College of California; Lesley University; Long Island University-Southampton; University of California-Santa Cruz; University of California-San Diego; University of Missouri-Columbia and Vassar College.
In addition to the Bunting, I am grateful for fellowships from The North County Paden Institute for Writers of Color; Ingraham The W.K. Rose Fellowship at Vassar College; The MacDowell Colony; and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
This is more resume in a life that aches often for art.