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I Come To Your Country, Name Me

Diverse voices lead to stronger communities, and the Guild Literary Complex is dedicated to featuring Chicago's varied chorus. The Guild continues our 25-year legacy by piloting a new series featuring Asian-American authors and themes. I Come To Your Country, Name Me, the first of this series, takes place Wednesday, September 24, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's LeRoy Neiman Center (37 South Wabash Avenue, first floor). Similar to our monthly Palabra Pura reading series, this event will kick off with an open mic reading, beginning at 7 p.m.

This reading features three Chicago authors whose works address themes of identity, home, and the immigrant experience: Rachel DeWoskin, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Deepak Unnikrishnan. It is held in conjunction with (and co-presented by) the Kriti Festival - a three-day festival of literature from authors of Desi background and of the Asian Diaspora. The event is also co-presented by Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"This event will be a creative exploration of Expatriation and Migration in the Asian diaspora," says curator Dipika Mukhergee. "Asia has many communities and languages and cultures, so we will speak in anecdotes instead of reductive generalities.

"Rachel DeWoskin will read from her life as the megastar of a Chinese soap opera in Beijing, then read from her new book based in Shanghai.

"Mary Anne Mohanraj, in her memoir, discusses bisexuality, taboos and going home to a discontented Sri Lanka, which is no longer home.

"Deepak's writing is grounded in Abu Dhabi where he grew up as the son of Indian expatriates, but home has been America for more than a decade.

"All three readers live and work in Chicago."


* Rachel DeWoskin's fourth book, the critically acclaimed Blind, was published by Penguin in August 2014. Her novel Big Girl Small (FSG 2011) received the 2012 American Library Association's Alex Award and was named one of the top three books of 2011 by Newsday.

DeWoskin's memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton 2005), about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in six countries, optioned first by Paramount for a feature film and then by HBO to be developed into a television series, for which DeWoskin co-wrote the pilot episode.

Her debut novel Repeat After Me (The Overlook
Press, 2009), which follows the unexpected romance between a young American teacher and her Chinese student, won a Foreward Magazine Book of the Year Award.

She has written essays and articles for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine of London, Teachers and Writers, and anthologies including Found: Requiem for a Paper Bag, and Wanderlust.

Her poems have appeared in journals including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, New Delta Review, Nerve and The New Orleans Review. She teaches fiction and memoir at the University of Chicago.

See also:
* Our Babe In Beijing.

* On Blind.

* Asian Jewish Life.


* Mary Anne Mohanraj is author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and ten other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change is a Lambda-award-finalist science fiction novella.

Previous titles include Aqua Erotica and Wet (two erotica anthologies edited for Random House), Kathryn in the City and The Classics Professor (two erotic choose-your-own-adventure novels, Penguin), The Best of Strange Horizons, the collection, Without a Map, Aqueduct Press, co-authored with Nnedi Okorafor, The Poet's Journey (picture book), and A Taste of Serendib (a Sri Lankan cookbook).

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and serves as editor-in- chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary journal.

She was Guest of Honor at WisCon 2010, will be Guest of Honor at Maneki Neko Con, received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, and won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose.

She serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit and the Speculative Literature Foundation and directs the Kriti Festival of South Asian arts and literature.

Mohanraj has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is Clinical Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

See also:
* Bookslut Interview.

* Salon: My Feminist Revolution At 40.

* BookDragon: Literotica.


* Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His first set of short stories, Coffee Stains in a Camel's Teacup was published by Vijitha Yapa Publications (Colombo, Sri Lanka). His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Drunken Boat, Himal Southasian, Bound Off, The State Vol IV: Dubai, the art project Autopoiesis, and in the anthology Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana (Zubaan Books, India).

He has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where on scholarship he completed the manuscript for his first work of fiction set in the Gulf, excerpts from which are forthcoming in Guernica. He is the winner of the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.



Dipika Mukherjee is a writer and sociolinguist. Her debut novel, Thunder Demons (Gyaana 2011), was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize. She lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University.

Kriti is the Hindi word for "creation."

Chicago's Kriti Festival was launched in 2005 to celebrate South Asian and diaspora literature and arts. In 2005, 2007, and 2009, more than 30 writers, artists, performers, editors and agents came to Chicago to share their work with the general public, through panel discussions, readings, theatrical, music, and dance performances, workshops and more.

The festival returns in September 2014, and will be hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Asian Studies Program and the Asian American Studies Program.


Comments welcome.


Posted on September 19, 2014

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