Suspend Your Disbelief

Neelanjana Banerjee


Neelanjana Banerjee is a writer and editor whose poetry and fiction have appeared in the Asian Pacific American JournalNimrodA Room of One’s Own, Desilit, and the anthology Desilicious. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2007 and was a Hedgebrook Fellow in 2008. She has worked in mainstream, ethnic and independent media for the past ten years. Since 2003, she has helped young people tell their own stories at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia. This fall, she will start as a teaching artist with the San Francisco WritersCorps. She previously was the Books and Literature editor for the Asian American magazine Hyphen and a co-editor of the forthcoming Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 2010). She recommends Minal Hajratwala’s Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents, Peter Orner’s The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and thinks everybody should read and re-read and re-read and re-read Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.


Interviews |

Reinventing the Haunted House: An Interview with Helen Oyeyemi

In her latest novel, White is for Witching (Nan A. Talese / Doubleday), Helen Oyeyemi dismantles and rebuilds the Haunted House story brick by brick, creating a book filled to the rafters with innovation. The Cambridge, UK-based author talked with Neelanjana Banerjee about why she’s drawn to supernatural subjects (but not “magical realism”), why vampire stories are really about race, and how to write stories that will freak your readers out.

Interviews |

Listening to the Tiny Voice: An Interview with Kathryn Ma

Neela Banerjee talks with Kathryn Ma, the first Asian American to win the Iowa Prize in that contest’s 40-year history. Ma channels rage and its antidote, humor, in her debut collection, All That Work and Still No Boys, which features unapologetically Asian American characters who don’t do any cooking or talking to ghosts.

Reviews |

I Do Not Come to You By Chance, by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

I had to go four or five pages into my junk email folder to find one. It was from a Dr. Obadiah Maliafia of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The email says that my $10.7 million in overdue inheritance funds: “HAS BEEN GAZZETED TO BE RELEASED TO YOU VIA THE FOREIGN REMMITANCE DEPARTMENT OF OUR BANK.”

After reading Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s debut novel I Do Not Come to You By Chance (Hyperion, May 2009), the missive from Dr. Maliafia read like a finely tuned piece of art: the formal language, the capital letters, the amount of money – a perfect example of the 419 email scam.

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