Are you confused? I readily admit, when I started reading YA literature more seriously and critically in 2000, I was confused. I loved to read, I encouraged reading, I promoted reading, but I neglected to include YA lit in my curriculum except as an after thought or as a small project to fill a gap. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!
I have worked hard to fill my own gaps and used books as windows into worlds that I did not know. I hope that this blog, my academic work, and the academic work of many others that support this platform serves as a reminder that it is never too late to do something different in the classroom. It is never to late to let students read what they want. It is never too late to let them form their own literature circles, to form a book group, to write a poem, or to try out any of the suggestions or ideas promoted by the more than 70 academic, authors, teachers, librarians and students have contributed to the blog over the past 2 ½ years.
I did, however, deliberately start to read books by people who were not me. Early after its publication I found Born Confused. If you don’t know this book, you should. It is a powerful narrative. Again, it is one of those books that stays with me. I suggest it to people all of the time. I would never say that it captures “the” Indian American experience, but it certainly is “an” Indian American experience and generally considered the first YA novel “ with a US female teen desi heroine”.
I reached out to the author, Tanuja Desai Hidier awhile ago for an interview. Ok, much too long ago. She was good to respond and is involved in some very cool stuff that highlights the 15th year anniversary of Born Confused and celebrates her second novel, Bombay Blues and the album she wrote to accompany the book.
I admit to having a busy semester—don’t we all? I am in my hotel room near the end of the AERA conference in New York City writing this introduction. I have walked around New York slightly afraid that I will run into Tanuja (Although, I think she is in London most of the time.). I am embarrassed that I let obstacles get in the way of publishing her interview and linking to her music and other projects. Tanuja is the best introduction to her own work. Below you will find a brief introductory biography and then a series of videos that will show you her work and the collaborative projects she has been involved with.
Here it is:
And finally: What are you doing to celebrate Dimple Lala’s 15th?
Celebrating The We! Our communities, our storytellers, our culture-makers-and-shapers. With the DEEP BLUE SHE #Mutiny2Unity #MeToo #WeMix music video project—a year in the making (massive shoutout to editor Atom Fellows)--featuring 100+ artist/activists (including authors Marina Budhos; Gemma Weekes; Kat Beyer; Uma Krishnaswami; Elizabeth Acevedo; Cynthia Leitich-Smith; Paula Yoo; Sharbari Ahmed; Mitali Desai; Eliot Schrefer; Mira Kamdar; Nico Medina; Billy Merrell; Bill Konigsberg). In a way, Deep Blue She is my birthday promise to Dimple Lala: To keep celebrating the ‘skins’ we’re in, honoring our collective and individual voices. And it’s a thank you as well, to the communities I’m blessed to know and call home, for their dedication and determination to fight the good fight. To tell our stories. And be heard.
(And hopefully to offer support and concrete help so others can do so: all artist proceeds from sales of the remix at Bandcamp to charity.)