Against the Grain: Devi S Laskar, Sejal Shah, Anjali Enjeti, Soniah Kamal, and Jenny Bhatt

October 13, 2020, 7:30 PM

Devi S Laskar, Sejal Shah, Anjali Enjeti, Soniah Kamal, and Jenny Bhatt join us for a discussion of ageism and sexism in the literary community, and to share their new books. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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While there are women writers in other cultures too who start later in life for various reasons, this is a particularity within South Asian culture because of our socio-cultural conditioning and values. Devi S Laskar, Sejal Shah, Anjali Enjeti, Soniah Kamal, and Jenny Bhatt all came to writing after careers doing something else that was deemed more respectable than a writing career/vocation. This panel is part of a conversation around ageism and sexism in the literary community, and about going against the grain.

Devi S Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Tin House and Rattle, among other publications. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and is an alumna of The OpEd Project and VONA. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is her first novel. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her stories and essays have appeared  in Brevity, Conjunctions, Guernica, the Kenyon Review Online, Literary Hub, Longreads, Poets & Writers, and The Rumpus. The recipient of a 2018 NYFA fellowship in fiction, Sejal recently completed a story collection and is at work on a memoir about mental health. She teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Rochester, New York. 

Anjali Enjeti is a former attorney who began writing professionally while still practicing law. She’s a political columnist for ZORA magazine and a literary critic whose work appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kirkus, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Her collection of essays about identity and social change is forthcoming from University of Georgia Press, and her debut novel is forthcoming from Hub City Press. She teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Reinhardt University and lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Soniah Kamal is an award-winning novelist, essayist, and public speaker. Her novel, Unmarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan has been featured on PBS Books, Publishers Weekly hails it a ‘must-read for devout Austenites’ and Shelf Awareness has said that ‘ If Jane Austen lived in modern-day Pakistan, this is the version of Pride and Prejudice she might have written‘.  Accolades for Unmarriageable include a  Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, an NPR Code Switch and New York Public Library 2019 Summer Read Pick, a People’s Magazine pick, a Library Reads Pick, a 2019 ‘Books All  Georgians Should Read,’ a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee, is shortlisted for the 2020 Townsend Award for Fiction, and more. Soniah's novel An Isolated Incident, forthcoming in the UK, was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize and an Amazon Rising Star Pick. Soniah's work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian,  TEDX stage, The Georgia Review and more. She is on Twitter and Instagram: @soniahkamal. 

Jenny Bhatt is a writer, literary translator, and literary critic. She is the host of the Desi Books podcast. Her debut story collection, Each of Us Killers (7.13 Books, Sep 2020) was listed as a most anticipated book of 2020 by Electric Literature, The Millions, and Literary Hub. Her literary translation of Gujarati short story pioneer Dhumketu’s best short fiction will be out in late-2020. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in various venues including The Atlantic, NPR, BBC, Washington Post, Literary Hub, Longreads, Poets & Writers, The Millions, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Kenyon Review, PopMatters,, and more. She was a finalist for the 2017 Best of the Net Anthology. Having lived and worked her way around India, England, Germany, Scotland, and various parts of the US, she now lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.