Ep. 87 2/5/19 feat. Devi Laskar + cohosted with Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng
Our inaugural 2019 episode of It's Lit showcases the fiction of returning feature Devi Laskar (from 1/8/17)! We're so stoked to be recording this feature on Feb 4, 2019, the day before Devi's debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, launches! On this episode, Devi is reading excerpts from this powerful and important novel and pairing music to go with her work. Enjoy!
“A violent police raid leads to a casualty — and a meditation on racism in America” (Ilana Masad)
Poet and novelist Caoilinn Hughes wrote in Granta last year that “when poets turn their hands to prose, those hands might well belong to Midas.” Indeed, there is often something that stands out about novels written by poetically minded people: “It’s not just the sentences — though me-o-my, the sentences! — it’s the sensibility,” Hughes wrote. Her examples included books by Paul Beatty, Sylvia Plath and James Baldwin, but she might as well have been describing “The Atlas of Reds and Blues,” poet Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel. An early paragraph summarizing the main character — known throughout the novel as Mother — reads:
‘I Believe That Silence Is Ineffective’: Devi S. Laskar on Invisibility and American Terror (Ruth LeFaive, Longreads)
Episode 89: Devi Laskar – Taking it Day by Day
This week Angie and Elizabeth welcome back Devi Laskar to talk about how far she has come in a year. From finding an agent, to being about to be published, to hearing a sample from the audiobook of her debut novel, Devi is a powerhouse of creation. Since 2010, when her writing was seized from her by government agents, she’s found a way to persevere and generate more material. Angie asks about this material generating, and Devi talks about how she gets itchy and grumpy and upset if she’s not doing something every day, knowing full well that not every day will be as productive as the rest.
Thanks to Soniah Kamal for the lovely review in the Atlanta Journal - Constitution.
“In 1999, Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was shot 41 times by four New York City police officers without provocation. Since then, this fate has been shared by Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark and others. Devi S. Laskar’s timely debut novel, “The Atlas of Reds and Blues,” is a poignant meditation on racism and police brutality experienced by people of color.”
Fleet Books, an imprint of Little, Brown UK, will publish The Atlas of Reds and Blues early next year.
To coincide with the US release, Fleet will publish an eBook and trade paperback in February 2019 and put out a hardcover next June. Pre-orders are available here.
Little, Brown Senior Commissioning Editor Rhiannon Smith said: ‘Devi’s novel is both powerful and intense, I read the manuscript in a single sitting, immersed in the voice of the protagonist and immediacy of the writing. Devi has managed to layer a story of family life, upon a mother’s story, set in a climate of open – as well as covert – racism; a story I know will resonate with readers and stay with them for a long time.’
"It begins with an ending: in a scenario that has become infuriatingly common, the narrator has been shot by the cops and is bleeding out in her driveway. The rest of the story proceeds as a series of snapshots, memories from her childhood and adulthood interspersed with her last thoughts and impressions. It wasn’t an easy life, lived as it was at the nightmarish intersection of racism and sexism, and it was cruelly cut short. The reader is left filled with bitterness at the constant injustices of her living days and the brutality of her death—it is all so tragically unnecessary and wrong. At the same time, this book is absolutely, overwhelmingly gorgeous, a marvel of coexisting beauty and pain. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is the kind of book that feels like a gift.” — Lauren Peugh, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)
It takes place in a morning; it covers a lifetime. Short, vivid chapters, like puzzle pieces, deliver the thoughts of a woman sprawled on the pavement, bleeding. She has just dropped off her three daughters at school and returned to her home in an Atlanta suburb. Born in North Carolina, this American of Bengali descent is nonetheless asked repeatedly where she is from because her skin is brown. She has faced discrimination, cruelty, and stupidity in routine circumstances and as a newspaper reporter. A policeman pulls her over day after day for phony traffic violations; a visit to the dry cleaner turns into a vicious confrontation….” — Donna Seaman
Read the full review here.
Counterpoint announces it is partenring with Books Inc. Events for signed pre-orders of The Atlas of Reds and Blues. Place your orders with this great indie now!
DeFiore and Company
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar — U.S. publisher: Counterpoint, Feb. 2019
This debut novel portrays “one woman’s shift from acquiescence to resistance” against the racism and xenophobia she grew up with in the rural South as the daughter of Bengali immigrants, per the agency. She is “met with the same questions: ‘Where are you from? No, where are you really from?’ Her answer—‘Here’—is never enough.”
Devi Laskar '96 to Publish Debut Novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues
Alumna Devi Laskar’s '96 debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, will be published February 2019 by Counterpoint Press. Pre-orders are available through Indiebound.
The Atlas of Reds and Blues follows an unnamed protagonist simply called, “Mother,” who, along with her three daughters, and husband move from Atlanta to a wealthy suburban town. Mother, a second-generation Bengali woman, must deal with her neighbors’ racism, microaggressions, and the ways they make her feel like an “other,” and an outsider. However, “The Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a baseless and prejudice-driven police raid on her house, she finally refuses to be calm, complacent, polite―and is ultimately shot.” Laskar’s debut novel explores ideas such as the experience of second-generation immigrants, what it means to be a wife, sister, and mother, and draws from Laskar and her family's traumatic personal experience of a home-raid.
Counterpoint Press publishes its Winter 2019 catalog
I am deeply grateful have The Atlas of Reds and Blues featured on the cover. Check it out here.