Welcome to book club. We want to read stories that make us think, that move us, that raise complex questions, that open up important conversations. We want to read books that we can’t wait to talk about with you—virtually (tune in here), on social (join our Facebook group), and we hope in person someday soon.
WHAT WE’RE READING NOW
by Devi S. Laskar
Why We Chose It
Seventeen-year-old Heera’s life changes in an instant one night on a walk home from a Halloween carnival with her best friend, Marie, and Marie’s older brother, Marco. A few years later, Heera leaves their North Carolina suburb for college and an arranged marriage in New York City—neither of which go as expected. Marco, having reinvented himself after that Halloween evening, crosses into and out of Heera’s life again and again. A slim, sparing coming-of-age love story, Circa explores the ways family, identity, desire, and the promise of freedom shape us.
Start with an excerpt now. Join our Facebook group to discuss. And save the date for a live chat with author Devi S. Laskar on June 30, at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET).
About the Author
Devi S. Laskar is the author of Circa and The Atlas of Reds and Blues, which won the Asian/Pacific American Award and the Crook’s Corner Book Prize and was named a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. She is an alumna of the OpEd Project and VONA and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
LIVE CHATThursday, June 30, at 4 p.m. PT
(7 p.m. ET)
Our book club editor, Kiki Koroshetz, will be chatting with author Devi S. Laskar. You can submit your own questions in real time.
A Q&A WITH DEVI S. LASKAR
How did the idea for Circa come to you?
Believe it or not, Circa began as a longish short story in 1995, a riff on Italo Calvino’s astounding book Invisible Cities. My story was set in New York, and it was about family and friend relationships, especially my dear friend Susan, who had recently been diagnosed with acute leukemia. I worked on the story for a while, but after Susan’s death, I set it aside.
In 2010, through no fault of my own, I lost the bulk of my poems, stories, and novels-in-progress. It took years for me to start writing prose again. When I was able to return to this story, in 2019, I had changed as a writer and a person, and my interests had changed. I noticed from the parts I still had in my possession that the electric moments from this book were set in the distant past. So I made a decision to let go: I kept the two main characters and the title and reimagined this novel. This time around, my book is set in second person and present tense, collapsing the distance between reader and narrator. This time my book explores identity and patriarchy, the nature of grief, and how there are many ways to disappear.
Were there coming-of-age stories that you drew from while writing Circa?
I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, and back then, the number of South Asian families in North Carolina was small, and the number of Bengali families was even tinier. The mindset among immigrant families was more insular, especially if you stepped outside the college towns and into rural areas. I remember events—from arranged marriages to runaways or disappearances—and I drew from these stories as I wrote Circa.
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