How will you observe this American President’s Day?

How will you observe this American President’s Day, Monday February 15, 2021?

Most years we Americans pay no mind to the American President’s Day, except noting it’s a federal holiday and the banks and the stock market are closed (except to Big Money). But this year? Can you just ignore it this year? Or do you feel some need to set a moment aside to consider the term and concept: the American Presidency? How will you observe this American President’s Day?

If you followed the Impeachment Proceedings this past week, that is. I’m sure you did.

So, I want to know what the term “American Presidency” means. Today, as well as historically.

I would also like to know what “Truth” means.

And what “Law and Order” means.

I want to know what “Government” means.

What “By the People, for the People” means.

What “Representation” means. What “Due Process” means. What “Evidence” means.

If I had any energy left I would ask what “Bipartisan Politics” means.

“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” The Book of Exodus says. Is that what we do today in America? And what does “America” even mean now? Also, what did it mean in 1776 and 1787?

American Constitutionalism always makes me nervous because of the trouble it seems to get us into with several amendments. But maybe it is in that hallowed document and its authorship that my answers lie?

But do they? The debaters on both sides of the Senate invoked the Constitution and the Founding Fathers repeatedly. Of course they would, being the trained lawyers they are.

Now, I understand why it is important to trust and respect these institutions and figures. We have to believe in something, since much else in American history is now revealed to be quite embarrassing in the eyes of the whole world. But can the answers to my wonderment about the American President’s Day really be found in the Constitution? Or the politics of the Founding Fathers?

The same men who thought and asserted they could uphold E Pluribus Unum while holding and fathering slaves?

Leave alone the undecidability of the First Amendment in practical situations. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In such a cornucopia of freedoms, whose freedom predominates? And who gets to decide?

Or take the Second Amendment. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Who are “the people”? Who are the “Militia”? It seems likely that after January 6, 2021 we shall be indefinitely in the dark about those things.

So, kept in the dark about the two Constitutional Amendments above, is it a wonder really that we saw both of these issues bandied about and thrown up into the air last week, as on January 6, 2021? And felt speechless and tied up?

I’m no constitutional scholar. But I am suspicious of all literal interpretations of any text, sacred or secular (or a puzzling hodgepodge of both). However, if we think of a definition of the nation as an “imagined community,” coined by the scholar Benedict Anderson, does America have a future?

Does America have either Imagination or Community now?

So, how will we observe this American President’s Day?

Please comment if you would.

But the show must go on. I offer you a little bit of Arts and Culture for consolation. I share with you today a newsletter called Ephemera, a lovely digest of what’s happening outside of the political quagmire this President’s Day. I hope it brings you some relief.


And in case you think I’m nothing but a disaffected anti-American, consider reading this piece about Narendra Modi’s India and the politics of gender there in this piece I recently wrote.

Sky Island Journal

And to take your minds off the antics of snake oil salesmen, here’s a short story where I try to draw a picture of immigration in America.

Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 2021

brazos-bookstore-oct-27-reading- The itty bitties:

Folks, I was born and raised in India and have called the United States my second continent for the last thirty-odd years. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve generally turned to books for the answers to life’s questions, big or small (that includes philosophy and recipes). My first novel Love’s Garden was published in October 2020. Some nice people have said some nice things about it (Buzzfeed; Medium.com; Foreword Reviews; Goodreads). I’m currently finishing my second novel about about Caste and Hindutva politics in Narendra Modi’s India and love, racism, xenophobia and other mysteries in Donald Trump’s America, titled Homeland Blues.

My short stories have been published or will be in the Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 2021 (forthcoming 2021), the Good Cop/Bad Cop Anthology (Flowersong Press, 2021), the Gardan Anthology of the Craigardan Artists Residency, Funny Pearls, The Bombay Review, Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, Storyscape Journal, Raising Mothers, The Bangalore Review, OyeDrum, and more. I’ve attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, the Vermont Studio Center residency, the VONA residency, Centrum Writer’s Residency, and others. I was first runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction contest (2017-2018), long-listed for the Disquiet International Literary Prize (2019 and 2020), a finalist for the Reynolds-Price International Women’s Literary Award (2019), and received Honorable Mention for the Saturday Evening Post Great American Stories Contest, 2021.

In a related avatar, I’m Professor of English at Texas A&M University, USA and teach and write about English literature, South Asia Studies, Indian Cinema, Postcolonial Studies, Colonial Discourse Analysis, Gender Theory, Film Studies, and Critical Theory. I founded and directed (2007-2017) the South Asia Working Group of the Glasscock Humanities Center at Texas A&M University, and rom 2012 -2014 directed the Graduate Studies program of the English department at Texas A&M University. I’ve published three academic monographs and many articles on film, world literature, feminism and visual culture, colonial and postcolonial discourse analyses of literature from the eighteenth century onwards, gender in South Asia, and travel writing. I’ve received grants and fellowships from the Huntington Library Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Regional Worlds Program of the Globalization Project (Ford Foundation) at the Chicago Humanities Institute, the Lilly Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, the Vermont Studio Center, VONA, the Centrum Artists Residency, and the Craigardan Writers Residency (forthcoming).

I love (and read!) Jhumpa Lahiri, Megha Majumdar, Amitav Ghosh, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jose Sarmago, Salman Rushdie, and last but not least, Chimamanda Adichie.

I also play at Youtube; Amazon; Author’s Guild; Twitter; Instagram; Facebook; Blog; LinkedIn; Goodreads; and Nandini’s Writing Treehugging and Reading Outfit

I was sighted at these spots recently:

Invited Workshop and Reading with a focus on Love’s Garden at Dev Samaj College for Women, Panjab University, India, February 2, 2021

Featured Reading from Love’s Garden in the Hidden Timber Book Reading Series, January 24, 2021

Featured Reading at Sacred Grounds in San Francisco, CA, January 13, 2021

Reading from Love’s Garden at Readings on the Pike, December 10, 2020, 7-8 PM EST

Reading at the KGB Bar, New York City, Nov 15, 2020, 7-9 PM EST

Reading at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Nov 13, 6-7 PM CST

Book Launch at Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX, Oct 27, 2020, 7–8 PM CST

Cambridge Writers Workshop and IEE Benefit Reading, July 24, 8-9 PM:

Podcasts: Desi Books Episode 21

Interviews: Lois Lane Investigates; Tupelo Quarterly; Critical Flame


Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah

Dear Friends, Kind Readers, HAPPY NEW YEAR

Joe is the Messiah. Kamala is the Great Goddess. Donald is the …. No words can Express.

And I have been in Utah, and now I am back, and while Utah does have some of the sublimity of the moon — what’s the lunar code of conduct when it comes to eating, drinking and being merry?— with all the startling beauty of craggy titans….

Utah Moonscape

Valley of the Gods Utah 1

Return from Utah 1

Before that I was on the far north coast of Washington State, which on most days made me merry. How could I not? I saw this out of my kitchen window in the mornings.

deer and rainier

Probably inspired by this, one new publication and one podcast

Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 2021, and Honorable Mention


Hello Desi

Dear friends and kind readers, as you see, I traveled through new lands, but as you know, also new times.

COVID times.

That’s why I felt extraordinarily aware of the ethics and politics of traveling, of consuming fossil fuels, of tax money used for the spider’s web of highways, and other worries about sustainable living in these modern times, which is why I begin this ‘trave-blogue’ with a reference to my friend Dr. Tazim Jamal who has, for as long as anyone including herself can remember, been learning, thinking, writing about and fighting for the environmental justice and sustainability. And so, please click on the link for a Special Issue of the

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

with the Introductory essay by Tazim Jamal & James Higham (2021) Justice and ethics: towards a new platform for tourism and sustainability, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29:2-3, 143-157


Lots to learn and, free online to access in Dec. and March: 

Back to my travels, I hadn’t exactly gone ‘to look for America,’ but America came and got me on the road in all its terrible beauty. Traveling through land colonized and possessed a minute ago so-to-speak in the geo-planetary scheme of things, by white people.

I wandered, literally, up and down the bruited and brutal ‘Oregon Trail’ which so many nineteenth-century Americans eager (or greedy) for a ‘better life,’ for the ‘American Dream’ set out on, in unbelievably rickety wagons, with children, wives, cattle, guns, food, elders (most in small quantities, except sometimes children) for the Pacific West and Northwest.

On the gold rush, the land rush, the fur-trade rush, the lumber rush, the salmon-fishing rush (rush, rush, rush, ahh modern life!).

Through Idaho, Utah, Oregon, California, Washington—you try it with all their belongings and paraphernalia, and without an All-wheel drive SUV and GPS you can lustily abuse when it falls down on the job, as the oxen and wagons often did (though my fellow drivers on the road did made me wonder if as a hangover, a lost dream of utopia and Eldorado, the wagon trail still snakes through the American psyche as an ‘rv-trailer state of mind.’ So many Jaybirds and Dutchmen on the road, and it was winter!).

Rushing is dangerous, we are told. And this rush was remarkably dangerous, but not only for the Klondikers and Eden-seekers. It was dangerous for the natives of the land and the land itself.

The Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, in existential angst at learning that Darwin had pretty much proven that humans were descended from apes, and earth is not, unfortunately “God’s footstool” (Matthew 5:35 thought God needed one), that he now saw Nature as “red in tooth and claw.” I thought about the landscape I traveled through as “History and myth red in tooth and claw.”

Some story it is, this ‘Westward Ho,’ and I took some pictures at some danger to myself and my good old white Ford Focus, hereafter and forever anointed as “Blazing Saddles,’ to take.

Blazing Saddles and Lone Rider or, a Tale of a Beautiful Friendship of Woman and Machine

The sun set over New Mexico as we drove to Grants NM where the sidewalks had been rolled up by 7 pm because of COVID and even the fearless Chineserefused to let us in for dinner at their restaurant…


Main Street Roswell NM Nov 25

Of course, the ‘Westward Ho’ must go through Roswell, New Mexico, whose reputation for ‘alien’ landings has certainly taken on new meaning in America lately, but well before that said something about America. Above, Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico. Note the Alien street lamp.

Then bang, we were in Socorro New Mexico, where some ‘bad hombre’ were getting ready to leave us to a fate better than 2016-2020, beginning their winter migration to South America…. It’s amazing how, after the last four years, in America at least you don’t have to explain who the ‘bad hombres’ are….


#Socorro NM, the ‘bad hombre’ #herons got ready to leave us to a better fate than Trump, beginning their winter migration to South America

Here at the Bosque del Apache you also learn that if a mountain lion attacks, what you need to do if a mountain lion attacks is “fight back hard” — see last tip under “Don’t Run.”

Below, the courthouse from where William Bonner (aka Billy the Kid) briefly escaped after sending two guards to their maker. A drive down the single street of now quaint Lincoln will bemuse you if you remember poor Rutherford Hayes stuttering that the main drag of Lincoln was the ‘most violent street in America.’ Though we were followed by a frowning blue-haired old lady in a white Chevy, who saw us poking around, till we gave her the slip and got out of Dodge.

Lincoln Courthouse where Billy the Kid was held

The Aliens also visit here, apparently, however, as the locals’ polite inquiry of them at this presumable gathering place, the Historic Lincoln sign before town (peer please), suggests.

Lincoln, aliens

We saw this sign for the ‘national day of mourning’ in the Navajo nation, aka Thanksgiving Day, 2020


In the enormous Navajo Nation territory( here South Utah), 17544500 acres, you face the cliffs and realize the enormity of the crimes of Europeans against Indigenous people.

navajo national forest

A boulder long overdue to fall, I believe, in the Valley of the Gods, Utah, though Leo, who was sweetly traveling with me, said No

Rocks at VOGU

On the way out Oregon would not let me taken any photos. Every photo I took there was inaccessible later. Which told me something. I don’t know what.

Cape Horn Overlook 1

But it was another story at Cape Horn, Columbia Gorge Overlook, in Washington state. And then my writing journey began in earnest. I’d gone to Washington State to write for 20 days at the Centrum Residency for Artists. Think ‘Fantasy Escape.’


The ocean was three hundred feet away at Fort Worden State Park, where the residency was.

port-wilson-lighthouse Port Wilson lighthouse

Signs everywhere. Here be Tsunamis. Here-Lie-Tsunamis-Port-Townsedn- .

In the idyllic location (below), the military used to scan the shore for incoming enemy attacks (Hello Kim Jong Un? Hello?). You are looking at Whidbey island, Fort Ebey and Mt Rainier to far right. Ice Age mile high sheet ice retreated 12000 years ago. Given all that’s supposedly at stake, this outlook is called, naturally, Bliss Vista.


Click on the photo for a panoramic view of the bay

THE Port Townsend Van in the Victorian Seaside town!

Port Townsend Van in the Victorian Seaside town!

Swing time Swing time

We’ve all had this feeling my pet doe (symbolically) was having one day. Tired of social media. Tired of celebrity. Just want some good, good grass.


I consider myself lucky. I have been to the mystical straits of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles, WA.

Mystical straits of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles, WA

passing by deadman pass, starvation road, poverty flats and old emigrant trail copy

And then, return.

How did it feel to drive by Deadman Pass, Poverty Flats, Old Emigrant Trail, and Starvation Road? All places in central Oregon.

A sense that the ghosts of the massacred, the desperate, and the dispossessed still whisper. If you travel through the American West, you’ll see the bleached bones and bared fangs that the American Dream is made of. If you have never heard of the Pendleton Underground, look it up. You ain’t seen America if you ain’t been in the West.

I was retracing in my head that great western migration, covering the same ground and dangerous hairpin bends and slick and icy mountain highways and passes as the ‘Westward Ho’ people, but backward. With me, in my head, were two works of fiction that have come at the same history, albeit with very different flavors and intents.

First, if you have a chance please read my fellow writer and past mentor Hernan Diaz’s epochal novel In the Distance, tracing the journey of a young Swede in about the same period of the migrations AND immigrations from the 1840s or so to find his lost brother and …. no spoilers. It’s a tour de force. The American West was peeled open for me by In the Distance a few years ago, and when I made my own roadtrek, scenes from In the Distance and Diaz’s magisterial narration played in my head simultaneously, cinemscopically.

No, I cannot explain why Hernan’s name appears upside down. Maybe ir’s because it’s an upside down world?

And when you are sitting back and recovering from your admiration for Diaz and his unerring fictionalization of how the West was (really) won, cheer yourself up by watching the Coen Brothers’ bizarre screwball western noir

But how do you really understand America if you haven’t seen Booneville Point?

booneville point

Here, in the Snake River valley of Idaho, in the nineteenth century came the Frenchman Bonneville on on of his first ‘Westward Ho’ trips, and after the hot, dusty torments of Utah, and little food and water, at this bend of the Snake River in Idaho he ‘espied’ trees. And cried out “Les bois! Les bois!” Can you guess how “Boise,” Idaho gets its name, then? And ‘Booneville’ point. Dang it, we are in America after all.

And then with the discovery of the river, the valley, the grass for cattle and so forth, came some planning for the future, of course. The Paiute and other Indians whose land this was suddenly ‘moved’ to other less fertile ground all over the Snake River Valley, and later the Japanese too were ‘moved’ nearby, to the Minidoka internment camp.

Japanese at Minidoka internment camp Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

Thanks for taking the time to travel with me. Be Brave, Be Free, and always a little confusing to your enemies….

The itty bitties:

My first novel Love’s Garden was published in October 2020. Some nice people have said some nice things about it (Buzzfeed; Medium.com; Foreword Reviews; Goodreads). I’m currently finishing a second novel called Homeland Blues.My short stories have been published or will be in the Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 2021 (forthcoming 2021), the Good Cop/Bad Cop Anthology (Flowersong Press, 2021), the Gardan Anthology of the Craigardan Artists Residency, Funny Pearls, The Bombay Review, Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, Storyscape Journal, Raising Mothers, The Bangalore Review, OyeDrum, and more. I also play at Youtube; Amazon; Author’s Guild; Twitter; Instagram; Facebook; Blog; LinkedIn and Goodreads

I was sighted at these spots recently:

Reading from Love’s Garden at Readings on the Pike, December 10, 2020, 7-8 PM EST

Reading at the KGB Bar, New York City, Nov 15, 2020, 7-9 PM

Reading at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Nov 13, 6-7 PM

Older posts that might interest you:


Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Wonders

To British poet John Dryden, the Year of Wonders, Annus Mirabilis, was 1666. That was the year of a “great” British naval victory over the Dutch, as well as the date of the “great” London fire in which 80% of London was destroyed. (Notice how everything about Europeans and what they did is always “great”?) Anyhow, also, that year, a hurricane hit Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Christopher and killed thousands.

And I’m pretty sure Europe didn’t rush over aid to the islands that time either.

Finally, legend has it that Sir Isaac Newton may also have been hit in the head by an apple that same year.

Can you tell where this is going?

December 2020!

Dear Friends and Readers, Is it possible? Is OUR Annus Mirabilis almost over? Really? 2020 is not going to jump back and take another swipe at us, sink down with us to the bottom of the ocean, turning off our living daylights?

Maybe. I hope so. And hope is power. And power is good when it’s used to create more good. As Biden and Harris did last month and, as I believe, they will continue to do so. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings and beginnings (can you tell?), like Annus Mirabailis and all that stuff, only not in Latin. On that note, then, I want today to share a few recent pieces I wrote, and some upcoming news.

First, it took my breath away to be in the same issue of the fantastic and fun Bombay Review that has this cover image! Ooo, now that’s my kind of Annus Mirabilis.

Annus MIrabilis Bombay Review Issue 36 published my poem "Flight in terza rima".jpg
Annus Mirabilis Bombay Review Issue 36 published my poem “Flight in terza rima”.jpg

Yes, yes, as always you’ve guessed absolutely right, that’s our Lady Kamala,or even MA KAMALA as some naughty Bengalis have been calling her (after Ma Durga, Kali, you get the drift), and in this issue 36 of the Bombay Review, I have the honor of having a poem in honor and memory of my mother, Chandana Bhattacharya, who passed away seven years ago. Seven years, they say, is the time when all the cells in our bodies are remade. I know, though, that not a cell in my body, old or new, doesn’t miss my mother every day.

(You’ve already checked it out by clicking on Kamala’s gorgeous smile. Annus Mirabilis, Amen! Harris and Biden!)

My Ma, always in my heart, at the beginning and at the ending.

On another note, I had a lot of fun telling my body who’s boss in this poem published in Funny Pearls, a magazine of humor by and for women….

Annus Mirabilis Funny Pearls

FUNNY PEARLS. Cool name, innit?

And finally, while saying goodbye to the horrors of the Trump years, I wrote a piece about immigration, ICE, deportation centers, and the bestial treatment of human beings he’d labeled as ‘illegal.’ No human is ‘illegal,’ okay?

Here you go — “Gehenna.”

But Oh, the fun never stops in December 2020!

You are cordially invited to a Reading on December 10th if you got a spare hour to listen to some very good writers reading at the Facebook Live Event “Readings on the Pike,” at 7-8 PM EST. That’s EASTERN STANDARD TIME, OKAY? Bring your own cordials.

.Annus Mirabilis Loves-Garden-Readings-on-the-Pike-Dec-10-2020-copy.png

Thanks to everyone who has cared and supported, Love’s Garden is doing well, new furniture has been ordered for readers (hahaha)


and pleasant reviews and good vibes keep coming. THANK YOU!

Well, so much for December, but for the much longer future, HOORAY for the latest and best ANTONYM Magazine and its feisty and doughty editors, looking to publish new talent and fearless writing. Bishnupriya Chowdhury, Biswadip Sen and others are looking for your best, boldest, your most MIRABILIS! SUBMIT!

Always happy to share the love, and I hope you will share your comments with me if you want….

PS: You are receiving this letter because you are a contact of mine and we’ve had some positive engagements with one another and you at some point said you’d like to stay in touch. However, please unsubscribe from this list or let me know if you’d like to be unsubscribed. I don’t want to clutter your inbox or your life, and I wish you the best in every case, always.


YouTube Channel, Readings, and Travels

FRIENDS, I read on Sunday, November 15, 6 – 8 pm CST, at New York’s KGB Bar from my debut novel Love’s Garden, and other work.

And Lori Schwarz there, when she heard I had no YouTube channel, raised her eyebrows, so please find your reluctant debutante reading there!


Subscribe and share if you like what you see and hear!

Love's Garden autumn leaves banner copy

Recently, I got a lovely pat on the back about Love’s Garden. Thanks, Wendy!

And two night ago I arrived at the Centrum Writer’s Residency in Port Townsend, WA, to write, reflect, self-flagellate (? always!) and look at the Pacific for three weeks.


It’s been an adventure of a lifetime driving through savage beauty of the land in New Mexico



Valley of the Gods, Utah

Idaho and Oregon

Bend, OR

and past the Cape Horn Overlook in the Great Columbia River Gorge, Washington

Cape Horn Overlook
cape horn overlook

Writing is archiving our lives, and I suppose that’s why I’ve been upto inside my head most of my time on this planet, and now that I get to see more of it I think I understand better why that matters….

So, good friends and gentle readers, I leave you with this, that whether you travel in your armchair or out of it, I hope you will keep me in your thoughts as I walk on the shore of the might Pacific for a few precious hours….

Fort Worden Walk
Fort Worden Walk

You can Still watch a reading by me, Usha Akella and Tori Reynolds, two amazing poets, at the KGB BAR, Nov 15, 6 -8 PM CST

FRIENDS, I read on Sunday, November 15, 6 – 8 pm CST, at New York’s KGB Bar from my debut novel Love’s Garden, and other work.

Love's Garden autumn leaves banner copy


Watch it now on Youtube!


Future KGB Bar events will include

reading by amazing writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Colm Tobin, and Jonathan Franzen, at forthcoming KGB BAR fundraising events. Please visit this link for events and registration links. 

Friends, NOW is the time to celebrate and bring back life and letters to our national community. Please support the KGB Bar, the arts, and artists.



The Three O-s

What a happy day it is today! Joe and Kamala went and got the White House back. I’m going to see it as an unadulteratedly happy day; I will not hedge, hum or haw.

I will express strong love for Obstinate Older Oaklike men with thinning hair (as long as it’s not orange); I will let my heart flutter a little now and then; and I will even cry as I smile or laugh like a fool. The latter might happen at 7 pm CST tonight when my president addresses the nation.

I will allow my friends to send me videos like these and eat up storage on my IPhone 6 and not reprimand them.


I’ll make a small request that we stop calling Kamala Harris the first African-American or first Indian-American Vice President. I will request that we simply call her the American Vice President. After all, we don’t call Joe Biden the 46th White American president.

I will go down my street and hug my neighbors whose sign has said for months “Republicans for Biden-Harris.” Good on yer, mates.

Now go dance in the streets. That’s not a request. Rejoice. It appears that in America we still have some choice.


Election 2020

Brave New World. As Michael Moore reminds us, half of the voters in Election 2020, in the world’s most powerful country (notice I’m leaving out the word ‘democracy’) have voted for THIS man

Donald Trump

And that makes me wonder about the future, along with this Frenchwoman

liberty in disunitedstates

Because, if not, we are certainly this country, right?

Drew Carey Welcome to America


November 3, 2020 — what will the next eighty years bring?

I don’t know, folks, but today maybe one of the most important days in the history of the twenty-first century. So I do hope, if you are in America, you’ve voted already or are going to vote.

And I am full of hope, anxiety, and truth be told, fear, because we know that the stakes are among the highest in our life times. I’m having a hard time sitting still, so I’ve been gardening.

But there was a little ray of sunshine for me, personally, this morning, and I want to share it with you. It’s Buzzfeed on Love’s Garden.

Love's Garden front cover


“Love is an enigma, but marriage is serious business,” writes Bhattacharya in this novel that spans three decades and three generations of women in India under British colonial rule. The book deftly confronts how, for these women, marriage is often an escape route and the only pathway to having a home of their own. Though the setting is somewhat historical, spanning both world wars and the turbulent backdrop of the Indian independence movement, the novel is a timeless story of redemption.” — Wendy J. Fox

I am humbled.


About those silver linings in spite of COVID

Friends, below are some curated virtual events, artistic and literary, that are the silver lining in COVID skies. Because wherever you are in the world, COVID can’t stop you from attending these. So I’ve listed them below from soonest to latest. I could only list some, and there are many great ones I’m missing. Maybe you can write in comments about those.

Tonight, Belle Boggs reads at the Vermont Studio Center.

Belle Boggs, writer

Thursday, October 22nd 6:00 pm CST at the Vermont Studio Center

Come to a Featured Reading with Belle Boggs

Learn more and reserve your spot.


Nimrod International Journal

Saturday, October 24, 2020, 1 PM CST

Attend a virtual Writers Conference: Nimrod International Journal. For 41 years, Nimrod has hosted an in-person, all-day writing conference in conjunction with the publication of their fall issue.

All panel discussions, craft talks/workshops, readings, and Q&As are free and open to the public, but donations are requested from those who can give so Nimrod can continue to offer programs like these.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 7-8 pm CST, Book Launch for Love’s Garden, at Brazos Bookstore, Houston.

The wonderful Indira Ganesan, author of three fabulous novels, will be in conversation with me afer the reading. See more about Indira: https://indiraganesan.com/

Register here

Love’s Garden is available at Amazon.com and at Pothi.com


Love's Garden front cover

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2020 AT 6:30 PM CST – 7:30 PM CST; Publisher’s Book Launch for Love’s Garden


Hosted by Aubade Publishing

Come hear me read from LOVE’S GARDEN (Aubade Publishing, October 27, 2020) and Jeannine Ouellette, author of the forthcoming memoir, THE PART THAT BURNS (Split/Lip Press, 2021) read from that. The readings will be followed by conversation and a Q&A session with authors Nandini Bhattacharya and Jeannine Ouellette.

Reading from Love's Garden at the KGB Bar, NYC

November 15, 2020, 7 -9 PM EST, KGB Bar, 85 East 4th St., NYC 10003, Reading from Love;s Garden by Nandini Bhattacharya

Come to my Big Apple event

Enjoy, and till soon…..


Joyfully announcing retailers for Love’s Garden, my novel, in India

Love's Garden front cover

Thanks to Aubade Publishing, my wonderful allies and publisher! Friends, Amazon totally sank sales of Love’s Garden in India by listing the book at 2400 INR! We complained, and they simply yanked the book from the shelves. Dear Friends and Readers, near and far, this is another reason we don’t like the cosmic strongman Jeff Bezos. We didn’t like him before, but even less now!

But, my wonderful publisher Joe Puckett, owner of Aubade Publishing, found a retailer in India who will sell the novel for 500 INR. N0w that’s a decent price, one I wouldn’t be ashamed of.


So Readers and friends, please help me celebrate. If you are in the US, please go out and vote, and. And if you are in India, praise the Warrior Mother and enjoy this meme I’m calling ‘the Mahisha-Don-Mardini‘! You will know why!


And you must know, the Mother will understand if you don’t visit her in pandals this year, for she knows our hearts, is in our hearts. She is our heart. For she is our MOTHER. We worship her in our hearts.



Silver Lining — virtual readings

There are still silver linings. Even in COVID times. One is the proliferation of virtual literary events —which is one great way we can still travel the world — and I hope you will allow me to share a few opportunities for this over the next few months. So, I hope at the end of that time there were be a ‘newer,’ ‘better’ normal, including a top to bottom clean-up of the big White House on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, here are some free and open events at the Vermont Studio Center.

Virtual Visiting Writer at the Vermont Studio Center: Belle Boggs

Belle Boggs, writer

Thursday, October 22nd 7:00 pm at the Vermont Studio Center

A Featured Reading with Belle Boggs

Learn more and reserve your spot.

Belle Boggs is the author of The Gulf: A NovelThe Art of Waiting; and Mattaponi Queen: StoriesThe Art of Waiting was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and was named a best book of the year by KirkusPublishers WeeklyThe Globe and MailBuzzfeed, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Mattaponi Queen, a collection of linked stories set along Virginia’s Mattaponi River, won the Bakeless Prize and the Library of Virginia Literary Award and was a finalist for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ conferences. Moreover, her stories and essays have appeared in the Atlantic MonthlyOrionThe Paris Review, Harper’s, EcotonePloughshares, and elsewhere. She is an associate professor of English at North Carolina State University, where she also directs the MFA program in creative writing.

Other upcoming Virtual Vermont Studio Center events…

10/16 – 7:00 pm Temim Fruchter, a featured reading with VSC Alumna & 2020 Rona Jaffe Award Winner

10/18 – 7:00 pm Virtual Artist Talk: Nina Katchadourian – an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects.

10/25 – 7:00 pm Writer to Writer: Featured Readings by Two VSC AlumniCaroline M. Mar & Francine Conley In support of the debut collection, Special Education by Caroline M. Mar

All month long: The Parallax View of Pearl Street from the Red Mill Gallery Dark Room by artist duo, Gibson + Recoder. Viewings by appointment. Contact: galleries@vermontstudiocenter.org



Review of Love’s Garden

Forewords Review of Love’s Garden




Nandini Bhattacharya
Aubade Publishing (Oct 27, 2020)
Softcover $18.95 (435pp)

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Love’s Garden is an expansive love story set during turbulent times.


Mari Carlson, Forewords Review of Love’s Garden

Nandini Bhattacharya’s historical romance Love’s Garden witnesses India’s turbulent history at the turn of the twentieth century through the lives of one family.

In 1898, Britain has influenced India’s law to the extent that Saroj need not die when her first husband does. Nor is she forced to marry her brother-in-law against her wishes. Instead, she arranges to marry a rich older man, with whom she has one daughter, Prem. But Saroj is not able to forget her tormented past. She is a distant wife and mother.

As Prem grows up, she becomes close to the family’s servant, Kanan, who becomes her friend. Prem and Kanan pledge undying loyalty to one another. When Kanan marries, Prem takes it as a betrayal. Prem marries a rich older businessman; the union is a source of consolation, but it does not fill the void left by Kanan. Prem and Sir Naren raise three children, though only one of the children is their own. India’s civil war and two world wars almost break the family apart, but deep roots result in hope.

Within the story, Prem is made to personify Mother India. The plot follows her rich, diverse life. Caught between the lavish benefits of being married to an Anglophile husband and her desire to experience love that she never experienced with her mother, she exemplifies an internal battle for unity. “I tried” is her tired refrain.

Prem’s children, in turn, represent factions of Indian society without losing their individuality: Roderick has mixed blood and yearns for England. Harish develops nationalistic fervor laced with colonial entitlement. And Roma’s destructive tendencies show the anger of the masses. Secondary characters, including a Muslim singer, a British piano instructor, a teacher turned soldier and producer, and a Japanese American soldier, add depth and color to the family’s relationships. Women’s perspectives dominate, emphasizing marginalized sides of Indian history. Themes of abandonment and its emotional consequences result in soulful insights into India’s politics.

Prem has a special interest in India’s burgeoning movie industry, and this results in soap-opera-style drama as various personalities face off. Characters’ conversations are minimal and dignified, adorning the text like elegant gold jewelry. As in silent films: characters’ gestures and facial expressions, the ornate scenery, and brash behavior reveal the novel’s moods. Intimate words are often expressed in letters or as asides, showing the risk involved in speaking out.

Told over nine parts, the story’s tone is sweeping and epic. The narrative is divided into chronological chunks that focus on one character at a time. With so many threads, the writing becomes vine-like: twisting, curling, and overlapping itself, lush and organic, as it moves toward a climactic head during the civil unrest of the late 1940s. The pacing speeds up toward the end, wherein the chapters shorten and characters die, leaving a skeletal cast to bring the novel to an introspective, pastoral close.

Love’s Garden is an expansive love story set during turbulent times.

Reviewed by Mari Carlson
September 30, 2020



AWWW, it’s a Happy Birthday

Dear Friends and Readers, Near and Far, please join me for the Happy Birthday of Love’s Garden

Happy Birthday, Love's Garden

You’re invited for the VIRTUAL book launch and happy birthday of Love’s Garden, An epic family saga of war, love, friendship, and sacrifice in twentieth-century India during its fight against British rule… TANTARAAAHH!!

October 27, 2020

Find Love’s Garden at Amazon:

Love's Garden front cover

and mark your calendars for these free, virtual, various and, I’d claim, virtuous events:

Reading at the KGB Bar, New York City, Nov 15, 2020, 7-9 PM

Book Launch at Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX, Oct 27, 2020, 7–8 PM

Reviewers hail it as “wonderfully dense and wise,” “gripping,” and “a journey into India’s complex past” and ‘what women will do to protect those they love” — an epic saga of Indian women living through a century of war and decolonization –

also check out Foreword Reviews, NetGalley Reviews

Story: It is 1898. India is ruled by the British, and India’s women are ruled by British masters as well as Indian men. A desperate young widow makes a tragic sacrifice to save herself from ultimate dishonor. She marries a stranger for security and shelter, but her damaged second family pays dearly for this Faustian bargain. Then, an extraordinary atonement and strange liaisons in politics and love — spanning the two world wars and the Indian independence movement — help her descendants heal from this traumatic private history. Love’s Garden demonstrates the strength, resilience, and unbreakable spirit of mothers and daughters navigating layers of oppression, all while the sun is not-so-peacefully setting on British India.

Other events:

Cambridge Writers Workshop and IEE Benefit Reading, July 24, 8-9 PM

The Great Indoors Reading Series, New York, June 19, 2020, 8-9 PM

The Great Indoors Reading Series podcast

The Little Creative Interview with Scott Coon, author of Lost Helix


American Rust — review

This is a good time to read Philipp Meyer’s novel American Rust. This is a good time to take note that America’s president, who promised to help the hard-working backbone of American manufacturing toiling in mills, mines and swamps, is now telling the same unrelieved people to re-elect him by committing voter fraud. Read American Rust to know what has happened to those voters. The Dude has not kept any of his promises to them to Make America Great Again.

And this is a good time to read American Rust because it will help us see the reality, in stark visuals, of what such a president, and the legacy of such a president, has done and is doing to young people in this country.

Satanic Mills

This country has always been based on certain amounts of casual but intentional, regular violence. Even so, American Rust tells the sordid tale of the last twenty-odd years. They’ve been a time of crushing the bones and sinews of America. They’ve brought to their knees descendants of the post-war boom when Americans took pride in “made in America.” They are now living through an economic violence that is unprecedented even in the annals of barbarity.

Meyer sets his novel in the Mon Valley of Pennsylvania, around Pittsburgh. Once prosperity and middle-class aspirations were built there on moving earth and ore. Now the gutting of that whole world and way of life, the fine-honed betrayal of the vulcans and titans, has spawned crime and violence. They are largely driven by a lack of hope, options and desperation.

Young men and women of the valley try their hardest to leave as soon as possible, burying deep inside their souls the reality of collective and individual trauma. To do otherwise, to remain compassionate and sentient, would be to die.

Meyer is a talented novelist who knows not to end the story on a completely hopeless note. Even after taking us through the slathering jaws of economic armageddon and the disembowelment of dreams and hope, through the infernal lightless prisons, through unremitting institutional violence, he knows to end the novel on notes of possibility, of new beginnings. Maybe on faint notes of the famous second chance of which too, supposedly, America is still the icon.

Read Phillip Meyer’s American Rust before November 3 , 2020 to recall why lives depend on sending the plutocrats back to their underworld, to the shadowy, nauseous caverns and recesses from which they emerged, once and for all.



The Great Goddess Comes

image courtesy Debjani Gupta

And she wants you to VOTE

Hello Friends and Readers, Far and Near. . . .

What can I say? November 8 is less than two months away. Are you ready?

Are you registered to vote?

Will you vote? 

The fate of the planet seems to hang in the balance, though that could be an expression of our American ideology of Manifest Destiny, or at the very least of our inflated self-importance. 

But many fates, in fact, do hang in the balance, friends. That of the 99 percent, the BIPOC, the LGBTQ, the refugee, the lost, the homeless,the sick, and the suffering.

Don’t forget them. ‘Remember the Porter,’ as Shakespeare said. He has an important tale to tell about our present-day Macbeth and his Lady. Blood on their hands, folks.

Shakespeare Porter Macbeth

Their misdeeds are legion, but here’s a short one: xenophobia, racism, corruption, personal and moral turpitude, lies, egomania, megalomania, and constant, untiring self-interest. And while some of you, my friends, are not American voters, the catastrophic rise of genocidal and corrupt leaders is worldwide, as my Indian readers know.

Don’t let your hesitation about are the alternatives good enough hold you back, paralyzed. The Goddess didn’t. She took on the demon and slew him. She wants you to vote, friends. Go and get the vote out. And give the White House a good shake-up and swamp-draining.



Land Ahoy!



Please join me for the Launch of my novel Love’s Garden at Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Friends, I have the great pleasure of inviting you to the Book Launch of Love’s Garden, October 27, 2020, 7-8 pm, at Brazos Bookstore, Houston. That day Love’s Garden is also available in bookstores and on Amazon.com.

Freebie and Bonus: The fantastic Indira Ganesan, author of three fabulous novels, will be in conversation with me afer the reading.

See more about Indira: https://indiraganesan.com/

Our event is virtual. You can register through this link:


Registration is free. I promise not to shed tears of joy. And Indira is never to be missed. Come for a little or for all of it. Always an honor.

Love's Garden, for free

Available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/195154708X 

and at: https://www.amazon.in/Loves-Garden-Nandini-Bhattacharya/dp/195154708X


‘I Hate Men’

I hate men!

‘We should have the right not to like men,’ says Pauline Harmange, the French writer at the centre of a literary storm.


When Harmange, a French writer and aspiring novelist, published Moi les hommes, je les deteste, a threat by a government official to take legal action to ban Moi les hommes, je les déteste (I Hate Men) made it a sellout. And readers quickly snapped up the first 450-copy print run, as also the following two reprints. Now 2,500 copies.

But this has been said before, ladies!


What do you think? For instance, do think Pauline Harmange has the right to write about what she feels? And do you think that what she’s actually saying is that she hates male domination, patriarchy, the undying brotherhood, call it what you will? Do you think the French government has a modicum of a right to crack down on her — or on anyone — because of that?

The publisher, Monstrograph, described as a “micropublishing house” run by volunteers, is overwhelmed. Now they say they will not reprint I Hate Men again unless a bigger publisher comes to the rescue.

Pauliine Harmange's book, I hate Men

The Guardian also notes that ‘The book cites statistics from 2018 showing that 96% of people convicted of domestic violence were men.’ And 99% of those convicted of sexual violence were men. “Whereas misandry has never killed anyone,” Harmange writes.

But Harmand is happily married. To a MAN.

I Hate Men

Well folks, I think it’s about time we started having the conversation, at least. Because, as Harmange writes, ‘Misandry exists only as a reaction to misogyny, which is at the root of systemic violence.’


Hey, what if Harmange is really talking about misogyny, systemic sexism and sexual violence, really? And not about individuals?

Let’s talk about this and make our own decisions, cogently, logically and respectfully. But let’s DETEST the French government official who had the arrogance and audacity to think he could muzzle the conversation altogether.



Do you like free books?

Would you like to read Love’s Garden for free?

I would be delighted to know that you could read it for free and liked it and if so, reviewed or rated it on the site itself.

Love's Garden, for free

I write to invite you again, dear friends and readers, to read my novel Love’s Garden for free, in the next one and a half months, courtesy my excellent publisher Aubade Publishing, and NetGalley. But don’t wait, because in another 90 days the link will not work anymore.



And if you are walking, cooking, or looking out the window while nursing a hot, sweet cup of coffee, please check out my recent interview, podcast by the nonpareil Ridge Cresswell, audiobook narrator extraordinaire (you’ll see, or rather hear, if you haven’t already).

The Great Indoors Reading Series podcast


If I sound delighted and giddy, it’s because I was. We had a great conversation. Ridge and Treena (Thibodeau), who run The Great Indoors Reading Series most every Friday, are good friends, and Treena is an amazing writer.

Do you want to support the Arts and artists? Do you want to hear great new writing by established and emerging writers? You can join TGI most Fridays at

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On Arundhati Roy, from the writer of Love’s Garden….

It was a while ago. I was just starting to write my novel, Love’s Garden. In 2004, two years after the Godhra, Gujarat Massacre.

She’s written so much more since then. So beautifully, defiantly, forcefully.

And recently I’ve been teaching, reading and thinking about another phenomenal Indian writer’s work: Megha Majumdar’s A Burning. That’s how I came again upon this talk Roy gave in 2004, at Aligarh Muslim University.


I’m sharing it. Because every word in it is true and every concern has become more critical in India today. Megha Majumdar’s A Burning is further proof of that if any were needed. For instance, Roy wrote two years after the genocidal massacre of Muslims in Godhra, Gujarat: “The targets of the dual assault of communal fascism and neo-liberalism are the poor and the minority communities (who, as time goes by are gradually being impoverished.) As neoliberalism drives its wedge between the rich and the poor, between India Shining and India, it becomes increasingly absurd for any mainstream political party to pretend to represent the interests of both the rich and the poor, because the interests of one can only be represented at the cost of the other.”

Sounds familiar? Sounds true? Like what she says in the video below?

Yesterday I invited you to read and review my debut novel Love’s Garden for free on NetGalley at


I’d love for you to do that.

But today I also urge you to read Megha Majumdar’s A Burning, Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, and most certainly, by making a little time, Roy’s words in https://www.countercurrents.org/roy250404.htm

Life is nothing but a Story of Journeys. And Stories are Journeys in visiting Lives like ours and not like ours. Understand — in Megha Majumdar’s A Burning the choice of ‘pidgin’ as the denigrated register in which English is spoken, thought and dreamed among the poor and the dispossessed in India is not cutesy ‘verisimilitude.’ Rather, it’s a weapon called language — that arises from chasms of despair we often skirt in our stories, journeys and lives — aimed at obscene sign-boards that say “India is Shining.”

India is not shining, friends.

India is, as Majumdar writes, Burning.

Buy from Aubade Publishing:  

https://aubadepublishing.com/books/loves-garden Use Code ‘Premlata’ for free shipping 



Read Love’s Garden for free in the next two months

Life’s a story about a journey. I’ve been on a few lately, and have reported about some.


But stories have their journeys too. As I’ve been traveling, so has my debut novel, Love’s Garden


Today I write to invite you, friends and readers, to read Love’s Garden FOR FREE, in the next two months, courtesy my excellent publisher Aubade Publishing, and NetGalley.


Oh, these are tough times


But Stories are what will get us through the shadows and searchlights of History

So I invite to join me in the recent legs of my journey as a writer, and read Love’s Garden without having to buy the book by using this link.

At the end, if you are so moved, leave me a review or a rating. Or let me know here, at One Planet Only One, what you think. I want to know.

With love and gratitude to my readers, always….


Race and America; Political Blackness 2

I Can't Breathe

My voice is tiny; it fails when I stand before this reflection on Race and America, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery Alabama. But my body knows it must cry

when I enter this Mausoleum of Sacred Desolation and Haunted Memory of Lynching in America. Where I know I am Politically Black

Blackness Chained

because I can’t hold back my tears. My face twists and my tears mingle with my sweat. A site attendant asks me if I’ll be okay. I say yes. We smile. Quietly.

A History of Horror The Horror of History

What choice do we have?


Let Us Love Each Other

Who will take care of us but each other?

Political Blackness IS the Hope for America

We People of Color

We People of Color, We Stand or Fall Together.


So, We Will Stand.

Divide, Dividie, Divide

So when I leave, my eyes are dry, my head is high, and my Spirit is Survivor, not Slave.


Brazos county, TX, lynchings

‘Je me Souviens,’ George Floyd and all the others, still falling, still rising, trying to BREATHE


Where is this city in North America? Three guesses enough?

What’s the postal address of Race in America?

Angry Young White Man — he lives in a malignant fantasy of lost spoils of the once great white race — in my presence, at this restaurant bar, exploded about something that had irked him that day and invoked the always convenient ‘damn f–king niggers.’ In my presence. Of course, my sad scaredy-cat behind froze. Next, would he shoot me? Maybe throw a really smoldering fry at me? He’d come in loud and aggrieved and had started bombasting quite early on. Was he already high? I didn’t know. He looked unimaginably callow, frail. Did he say those things because he saw a solitary woman of color at the bar and that switched something on?

But he was there with his mother. And he’d said that to his mother.

I’m a mother of a confused young man. After my initial freeze started thawing some, I felt an infinite sadness for this young man stirred into my pathetic scaredy-cat-ness. (Trying to to be completely self-aware, completely honest here, for the sake of my own soul and not for anyone else I can pretend to save or rescue). Because his mother and the bart — a thirty-something white woman — both shushed him and lit into him. And then he argued with them, tried to justify himself, asked what was so wrong with what he’d said about Race in America, tried to hit on the bart (so many demons to fight!). . . .

But then he just lost air. Utterly. Offered to buy me a drink. Warned me about having too many drinks. Said the police would be pretty merciless with me if they found me driving drunk. I think he was trying to make it right. I do think that.

But what if his mother hadn’t been there and the bart lady hadn’t shushed him?

courtesy of my good friend Henry Bourgeois

And yet, I, the mother of a mixed-race American teenager, feel stricken, partly for him? Why? Why don’t I just curse this unrealized twerp to hell? Why don’t I hate him? Because I parent a teen male who can equally trash talk, if about less heinous, more merely obstreperous, topics? Because male rage and white rage are equally ubiquitous and equally painful to watch? Because this white boy’s soft-eyed white mother’s shame and rage made me focus on her pain as much as on my near-disbelief that I was, finally, facing, about two feet away from me that much-talked-about, much-dreaded white male rage? Because when I left the mother was staring down at the counter, her face a study of a Madonna, and the son, actually cowed, was trying to jive her back into acknowledging him?

Or, because the effing POTUS has screwed this boy over by promising him both a past of imagined suffering at the hands of minorities, and a future of ecstatic revenge over those minorities, especially those ‘damn f–king niggers’?

Courtesy of my friend and teacher Henry Bourgeois

Is this boy the problem for political blackness and for all people of color, or is he a pawn? Am I too soft on his blind white, inarticulate male rage and defeated desire for a harmony that he can neither define nor achieve except at the cost of following — blinded, staggering — a great white father who’s shamelessly sold his own and his sons’ souls to other devils, and finally falling face down into whatever swamp history dug for him a long time ago?

Where do you think this happened? In which American city?

Readers, I’d love to have you write in your guesses. And do you know why I’d especially like that? It’s because I’d like hard, clear light trained on my own ignorance and blind spots about Race in America. Because during the early part of this emotional crossfire I was silently gnashing my teeth, thinking ‘look at how degenerate the people of this so-called convivial and loose-jointed state are,’ and was feeling mildly better after wriggling myself into that self-positioning of immunity from these ‘degenerate people’ (even though I live in Texas, a whole other emotional crossfire scenario), when I overheard that mother and son were actually former Texans from Odessa (remember ‘No Country for Old Men’? or, really, anyone other than rich white men?).

Imagine my confusion! So NOW who was I going to blame, despise? Here, where former Texans are washed ashore no doubt as battered detritus of the tsunami called the oil industry; where I have seen in the ghostly night-time heart of the city the ‘watering hole’ called SpoonBill Conoco, of course white male rage was bubbling, bobbing up to the murky water’s surface only as much as anywhere else in America. No more, no less.

So, where am I safe? And, why am I having to ask this question?

So, this is Spoonbill Conoco. It’s a restaurant in the city where my young angry white man lives. With his sad, downcast mother. Does Spoonbill Conoco, this ghostly, abandoned joy-dispenser and relic of the heydays of Oil, hold answers to what will keep me and other ‘damn f–king niggers’ safe from white boys who cave in when their white mothers push back? Or does it quite scarily presage the future of white angst trusting in mutant political ninja turtles, and in the false messiah called fossil fuel supremacy?

Or, is this the desolate tomorrow of a once boyscout-driven place that used to be called America?


Cambridge Writers Workshop reading for Institute International Education got over 1000 views last night. Hope you were there!

We had a fabulous time last night at the Cambridge Writers Workshop Institute for International Education Benefit Reading facebook live event. Almost 1000 people viewed, and many donated. We would be grateful if you could still donate. I was once an International Student in this Nation of Immigrants and I’m sad that a Dude with orange hair is messing with all that.




Sweet dreams are made of these….

Hot off the Press.

Holding the first print copy of my debut novel, Love's Garden

Holding my first print copy of my debut novel. I never thought this would happen. So, thanks to all whom I acknowledge in the book and to all readers who would honor me by reading it.

Love’s Garden

It’s 1898. India is ruled by the British, and India’s women are ruled by British masters as well as Indian men. A desperate young widow makes an unspeakable sacrifice to save herself from ultimate dishonor. Though she marries a stranger for security and shelter, her damaged second family pays dearly for this Faustian bargain. Then, an extraordinary atonement, and strange liaisons in politics and love — spanning the two world wars and India’s independence movement — help her descendants heal from this traumatic private history. Love’s Garden demonstrates the strength, resilience, and spirit of mothers and daughters navigating layers of oppression, all while the sun not-so-peacefully sets on British India.

View Post

I’m an emerging debut novelist. If only my parents had been alive to read my novel, inspired so largely by stories they told me! So I’d be truly honored to know what you thought of my novel should you get a chance to read it. Do leave comments here or on Amazon.com!



Literary Durbar! For the Rights of Minorities and Refugees, and against xenophobic mentalities!

The Rights of Minorities: ChagallPAC’s Fourth Friday Literary Salon Series and the Cambridge Writers Workshop Institute of International Education Benefit Reading goes live on Facebook on July 24, 2020 8:00pm-9:00pm at


Facebook Event links (info about event, includes live link in location) are below:

short link:
Long link: https://www.facebook.com/events/787916261965593/787936898630196/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1595350436708886

Come for a literary salon of talk and performance of Historical Fiction,Forbidden Love, Family Saga, Romance, the Rights of Minorities, and other ways of polishing the jewel and savoring the tutti-frutti of literature and performance.

And come for the love of diversity, stay for the love of global literary fiction, because “Literature exposes us to distress” (Jhumpa Lahiri) too easily forgotten otherwise. https://oneplanetonlyone.com/2020/07/05/i-hate-2020/

Again, the reading supporting the Rights of Minorities and International Students goes live on

July 24, 2020 8:00pm-9:00pm on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/creativenorthshore/live/

*****In light of recent pressures against allowing international students — futuremakers — to stay in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, CWW would like to emphasize their support of international connection and study.******

Organizers Diana Norma Szokolyai and Rita Banerjee say, “Many of our own writing retreats are held abroad, and since we have come to understand firsthand the importance of international exchange, we hope to show solidarity with international students during this time by directing resources and attention to IIE.”

Let’s build a One Planet Education Network or the One Planet Life, where the Rights of Minorities are taken away at the risk of taking away all persons’ rights. https://oneplanetonlyone.com/2020/07/14/whats-the-time/

“IIE’s mission is to help people and organizations leverage the power of international education to thrive in today’s interconnected world. We believe that when education transcends borders, it opens minds, enabling people to go beyond building connections to solving problems together. Our vision is a peaceful, equitable world enriched by the international exchange of ideas and greater understanding between people and cultures.” https://oneplanetonlyone.com/2020/06/16/au-autobiography-of-political-blackness-installment-1-whence/

IIE focuses on work that “advances scholarship, builds economies, and promotes access to opportunity.” They run over 200 programs for international students with more than 29,000 participants.


Here are the folks who will share their artforms against xenophobic mentality:

Stephen Aubrey is a Brooklyn-based writer and theater-maker. His fiction and essays have appeared in CRAFT Literary, Electric Literature, Publishing Genius, and The Brooklyn Review. As a co-founder and co-artistic director of The Assembly Theater Company, his plays have been produced at The New Ohio Theater, The Living Theater, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival where his original play, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, was nominated for the prestigious Fringe First Award. He is an instructor of English at Brooklyn College.   

Nandini Bhattacharya was born and raised in India and has called the United States her second continent for the last thirty years. Wherever she has lived, she has generally turned to books for answers to life’s big and small questions. Her short stories have been published in Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, Storyscape Journal, Raising Mothers, The Bacon Review, The Bangalore Review, OyeDrum, and Ozone Park Journal. She has attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop and held residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, VONA, and Craigardan Writers Residency (forthcoming). She was first runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction contest (2017-2018), a finalist for the Fourth River Folio Contest for Prose Prize (2018), long-listed for the Disquiet International Literary Prize (2019 and 2020), and a finalist for the Reynolds-Price International Women’s Literary Award (2019). Love’s Garden is her first novel. She is currently working on a second novel about love, racism, xenophobia and other mysteries, titled Homeland Blues. She lives outside Houston with her family and two marmalade cats. Visit her at


and read about Love’s Garden at

Elizabeth Devlin is a visual artist, poet, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. She is the curator of numerous art, music, and literary events including the series: The Highwaymen NYC, Prose By Any Other, and Token Folk Acoustic. As the Founding Director of Bessie’s, a private artist studio and salon, Devlin hosts art, community, literary and acoustic music events in Brooklyn. Devlin has toured nationally and internationally for over a decade. An autoharpist and singer-songwriter with avant-garde-folk sensibilities, she defies traditional song structures, weaving small worlds where magic and fantasies collide. Devlin’s third full-length album, Orchid Mantis, released in 2017, received 4.5/5 from Impose Magazine and is the follow-up to the previously released albums: For Whom the Angels Named, in 2011, Ladybug EP in 2011 and All Are Relative, in 2009. In 2020, Devlin will release her second EP, Conscientious Objector. Post-COVID, Devlin will continue to tour and will release her fourth full-length album, My Father’s Country.

Heather Thomas Loepp is pursuing an MFA in creative writing; meddling with her favorites: poetry, hybrid and the lyric essay. She has worked previously as a journalist, writing profiles on local artists, events, and the music scene—writing songs long before poetry in bands since childhood. Her poetry explores Native American mixed-blood identity, the camaraderie that can be found in poverty, and intergenerational trauma with humor & tenderness. She is working on publishing her first book of poems, entitled If I Were an Unhooked Rabbit. Heather spends her free time cooking elaborate meals for no one in her tiny house in the woods, where the fear of being mauled by a neighborhood cougar is a daily concern. Please send help or dinner guests. 

Diana Norma Szokolyai is the Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and co-founder of Chagall Performance Art Collaborative. Her books are CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing, Parallel Sparrows, and Roses in the Snow. Her poetry manuscript, Milk & Water, was a finalist for Hunger Mountain’s 2020 May Day Mountain chapbook series. Her poetry was also shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Prize and received honorable mention in the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. Her work has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, VIDA, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers As Writers, and Die Morgendämmerung der Worte Moderner Poesie-Atlas der Roma und Sinti. Her poetry–music collaborations have hit the Creative Commons Hot 100 list and been featured on WFMU radio.


The Hills Times presents Love’s Garden, courtesy of Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee, Associate Professor and Chair of English, Motijheel College, Kolkata; Columnist; Poet; and Editor in Chief of Literary Confluence : A Global Journal of English and Culture Studies


Nothing gives a writer more pleasure than to have another accomplished writer acknowledge their efforts. So, my sincerest thanks to Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee for writing about my debut novel, especially heartwarming coming from a fellow Indian and creative intellectual.

Review of Love's Garden in The Hll Times, India

This is the age of beating one’s own drum on social media. So it is balm to one’s fingers and one’s creative spirit when friends speak of your work instead.

Love's Garden, a novel, by Nandini Bhattacharya

Love’s Garden is now available for pre-order

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What’s the TIME?

What we are facing here is something unprecedented. This is a very serious health crisis. Pandemics and health crises of this nature are as old as humanity… But with COVID, this pandemic stems from humanity’s deteriorating relationship with nature. We have reduced dramatically the earth’s biodiversity. What is completely new today is that humanity has become a geological force unto itself.

Francois Hartog, historian of ideas


Have you noticed the recent ballooning and shrinking of your time, which makes you not know what day or even, sometimes, what TIME it is?

You are not alone. (Though you may be, because of COVID lockdown.)

That’s why I’m sharing with you a relevant article from FORTUNE magazine. You’ll have to register for free to read this, but it may be well worth your TIME. And in any case, what else is there to do with all this TIME? Do it any TIME. You’ve got plenty. Below is a little taste of how insightful Hartog is in reminding us that pandemics of all times are not only medical, but technological and political: “Politics these days is nothing if not presentist. Trump is the best example of this, and his Tweets are the best signal of that. He represents the zero-degree of politics. The nature of Twitter is to put you in a loop —someone says something, you reply, and then a few minutes later, it has lost all its meaning. And now all politicians are using Twitter for their communications. And that can distort not only the present, but the instant —particularly, if in the very next instant, the message is totally different. In that case, you are no longer obliged to remember what was said just three minutes earlier. In this kind of politics, it’s all about, first, reaction, and then emotion. And, of course, you have no space for any kind of reflection or analysis. You cannot take any distance to assess. You have to be on the spot, every minute.”

Is COVID the end of TIME? Or is it nudging us that it’s TIME to do something about acting like we have all the TIME in the world for everything and neither past nor future matter, just the HERE and NOW. TAKE YOUR TIME, think about it, and join the conversation…..


“I hate 2020”

nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future

Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp

I am thinking (or trying to think) about what COVID-19 is doing to us. To me.

I think COVID-19 might be the definition of the wild wilderness of the planet. And insofar as it is that, it’s a timely and terrific message from the universe(s).

COVID-19 is the wildness of the planet because it demonstrates a truth already well-worn for some of us: Nothing is guaranteed to us. We are owed nothing. We learn to sustain ourselves by sustaining ourselves, no matter what.

And ‘self-sustaining’ is, incidentally, the connotation of the word for ‘wild’ in Chinese. Which means, that life — that it even exists, that we are even alive at all — is, in the end, kind of ‘wild.’

And COVID-19 is also the wilderness of the planet because the wilderness is, according to Jon Krakauer who wrote INTO THE WILD that which sustains our spirit to survive. Because, as McCandless wrote to a friend, ‘nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future,’ a dictum whereby of course he lived and died as describe in Jon Krakauer’s book about him (INTO THE WILD).

Among friends we talk now about how, because of COVID-19, the future seems indefinitely uncertain (one of them said to me, ‘I hate 2020’). We talk about how we can make no plans, with nothing called certainty.

We are to be forgiven for wanting to make plans. For wanting a secure future. But maybe in the age of COVID-19 we are also forced to at least pause to think about McCandless’ words: ‘nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.’

Maybe we are to be forgiven for forgetting that believing that the future is secure no matter what we do to the wild and the wilderness, that we are owed everything we demand, that life is a given and not a creation, that accident and randomness with a purpose are the operative truths of our existence, is responsible for COVID and the other spectres that stalk the planet and our so-called assured myths of progress.

But maybe we cannot be forgiven if we don’t, at last, admit that we forgot. And if we don’t, at last, remember that life is a wild wilderness, and every other else is hokum and koolaid. And maybe we can, after hating 2020, thank COVID-19 a little for jolting us out of our complacency. And for giving us a well-deserved kick in the pants in the direction of the wildness of the wilderness, where, to survive, we must learn to be sustainable while not taking this grand planet and its self-sustaining but sensitive ecosystem for granted.