Note this is a repost from The Paths of Marriage website. The novel will be available for purchase everywhere books are sold in paperback and eBook on 1 October 2014.
The writing process is complex and multifaceted. The creation of my debut novel, The Paths of Marriage, was no exception. While some of my most intimate thoughts are reflected in this book, determining how to weave my life reflections into a story that I wanted to resonate far beyond my immediate circle required more thought than any other project I had ever undertaken. Over the past year, as The Paths of Marriage’s visibility steadily became more pronounced, my identity as a person took on another layer: writer. Becoming a voice for an intersection of minorities, for a community that is still finding its anchor was something I could have never foreseen, but I now embrace the idea as a core part of who I am.
Guiding The Paths of Marriage to the point where it is, both as a piece of literature and as a tool of positive change, has taken years of hard work, arguably delusional aspirations, and an increasingly intense support from friends and family. With the sheer grit it took to push this work to a public limelight, I had naturally envisioned a large gamut of grandiose celebrations to mark day the book finally goes on sale. After all, my identity as a writer surely warrants highlighting such an important occasion.
Alas, on the day of the book launch, I will find myself in a place that necessitates a quiet celebration. I have resumed another facet in my identity – an international development practitioner. While I am grateful to once again put my skills under the employ of the United Nations to innovatively address some of the toughest obstacles to economic empowerment and fulfillment of human rights, the decision to do so came at the hard cost of being away from the place and the people that enabled me to write the important story that I did on the day the story becomes available to the public.
At present, I sit in a country that still considers some of the issues addressed in The Paths of Marriage as taboo. The reason for needing a quiet celebration goes beyond concerns of safety and comfort, however. I am in a context where my progressive writer identity is of little value to those around me. While I internally celebrate The Paths of Marriage, I will spend the book launch day working with my colleagues on how we can better prevent millions of infants dying before they reach the age of six weeks, and millions of pregnant women dying of treatable complications when giving birth. So much of the population around me is simply trying to survive. Important as the issues that The Paths of Marriage addresses are, my writer identity is not what is most needed in my current environment. Unfortunately, my writer identity and my international development identity cannot exist in the same harmony here as it can back home.
All three of the main characters of The Paths of Marriage face contradictions of their multiple identities. How can one live up to typical American expectations under the pretext of immigrant parents? How can one reconcile a loving, open same-sex relationship while contending with a homophobic parent? How can one be the woman to change India when India does not allow women to change?
I have to admit that it pains me to be away from home, from New York City on this momentous day in my writer’s identity. However, I know that ultimately my absence is a perfect testament to The Paths of Marriage. Today will not be an external celebration to remember, but it will be an internal homage to the struggle that each of the main characters of The Paths of Marriage face. And for that deep connection to my own writing, I am grateful to live the life I do, struggles and challenges and all. I hope you will join The Paths of Marriage and me in this complex process of understanding our identity.
The Paths of Marriage will be available for purchase in paperback and eBook everywhere books are sold on 1 October 2014.