fifty-two. (2017)

By no means can this list be comprehensive since I literally got a master’s degree in reading this year, but to avoid listing out various critical theory texts, letters between old dead white dudes over the state of the “colonies”, and Said’s Orientalism 4234 times, I’ve narrowed it down to narrative (for the most part). The best ten I read this year are bolded– highly recommend!

  1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  3. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
  4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Old Habits Die Hard– Also, Baby’s First College Lecture!)
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (sue me, I’m an #intellectual)
  6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  7. Night by Elie Wiesel
  8. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  9. And Then There None by Agatha Christie
  10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  11. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  12. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
  13. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  14. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Old Habits Die Hard pt. II)
  15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  16. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  17. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
  18. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  19. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Baby’s First Faulkner!)
  20. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  21. Ten Nights and a Night by John Barth
  22. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  23. The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  24. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
  26. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  27. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  28. Adam Bede by George Eliot
  29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Old Habits Die Hard Pt. III)
  30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  31. The Wanderings of Oisin by W. B. Yeats
  32. The Winding Stair by W. B. Yeats
  33. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (Baby’s First Book Reports)
  34. The Sceptred Flute by Sarojini Naidu
  35. The Bird of Time by Sarojini Naidu
  36. The Golden Threshold by Sarojini Naidu
  37. Lalla Rookh by Thomas Moore
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Prometheus Unbound by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  40. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
  41. Dubliners by James Joyce
  42. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Old Habits Die Hard Pt. IV)
  43. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  44. Empire Writing: An Anthology by Elleke Boehmer
  45. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  46. Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  47. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
  48. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  49. In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  50. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  51. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  52. Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

the Princess of America.

It is the first day of school, and I’m half an hour early. In Indian Standard Time, this means I am actually an hour early. A doormat sprawls across the floor in front of me, and I kick off my shoes, knowing that I will have to remove them before I enter the room. I sit outside Principal Ma’am’s office like I’m waiting for punishment. My sari rustles against the floor. I scissor my feet beneath it, unsticking the edge of my petticoat from my legs. The power was out for an hour this morning, for longer than the usual fifteen-minute rolling blackouts that occasionally grace our flat, which means my hair is half-curled in a sad attempt to retain my Texas roots, and also that every inch of silk is stuck to my body with sweat.
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Oh, where to start.

It’s still unreal to me that I’m even here. I grew up in a town of 18,000 people, surrounded by fields and fields of sunflowers (like the picture you see here.) This, to me, was a “small town.” My friends and I would grab a sweet tea from the drive-thru at Chicken Express, walk around the Wal Mart for fun, and if we were feeling particularly lucky, would try to beat all of the red lights down Main Street without getting stopped by the train. Chennai, my Indian friends told me, was a “small town.” Chennai has about five million people, about the size of (if not bigger than) Los Angeles.
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