Travelling, creative resistance and retreating

Hey it’s been a busy March! I panelled and performed in New York at the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective’s Annual Literary Festival, lectured and read at Ottawa’s Carleton University (my alma mater), facilitated a workshop and read in Guelph at the re-launch of “Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault in Guelph” and tonight I head to St. Catharine’s to speak to a pop culture and queerness class. A ton of activity and travelling in one month.

One question I’ve been mulling over this March is the role of critical fiction as creative resistance…in other words, what are the ways in which fiction can challenge stereotypes, ways of being, and the status quo through story, narrative and voice? And how does a writer do this lyrically versus pedantically?

Both Stealing Nasreen and my second novel contain themes and writing that challenge society’s norms…but it’s interesting…as I wrote them, I didn’t think too much about these issues. It was only in the editing process that I thought critically about the work–it was more an unconscious process. Still, the politics came through, perhaps because they are there even in my unconscious world…and maybe it’s a good thing to avoid thinking too much during the creative phase of the work, or else I might get too self-conscious and bogged down by my own thoughts…

I’ve got more travelling coming this week…I head to Del Rio, Texas on Saturday to visit family and to do a mini-writing retreat. I look forward to Tejano culture, palm trees, a comfy bed, a sense of belonging in a home away from home and writing…just writing without much  distraction beyond Priya the dog.

IWD at Carleton University

I’m heading to my alma mater Carleton University, to take part in a few events on March 18th, in celebration of International Women’s Day/Month:

12:30-2:30pm, I’ll be giving a talk called: Queerly South Asian: Reflections on writing, psychotherapy and identity in real life and fiction in 409 Southam Hall. Free and all welcome!!

2:30-3:30, visit to a School of Social Work class.

4:00-5:00, Wine and cheese at the School of Social work for staff and alumni.

New York

I’m excited to be heading to New York City this Saturday March 7th for the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective’s 6th Annual Literary Festival. The theme is “Stranger Love” and I will be participating on a panel of writers, talking about sexuality, race and gender in South Asian writing. 


Here are the details:

Passing Strange: Race, Gender and Sexuality

Panelists consider how their writing reimagines raced, gendered, and sexual identity in unconventional ways.

Abha Dawesar (Family Values, Penguin India 2009)
Farzana Doctor (Stealing Nasreen, Inanna 2007)
Chandra Prasad (On Borrowed Wings: A Novel, Atria 2007)
Moderated by Svati Shah (Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University)

at The New School
6 East 16th Street (at 5th Ave), 9th Floor
New York, NY

Later the same evening, I’ll be reading from Stealing Nasreen at:

Closing Night Reading
From dating on Craigslist to undiscovered family histories, South Asian women share their own writing on the theme of “stranger love.” Featuring Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Meena Alexander, Abha Dawesar, Farzana Doctor, Minal Hajratwala, S. Mitra Kalita, Yesha Naik, Amy Paul, Bushra Rehman, Zohra Saed, and Purvi Shah.

at Bar 13
35 East 13th Street
New York, NY
$5 at the door

Hope to see you there!

For full schedule, go to