Fiction Essays

“My husband and I have had three fights during shelter-in-place, which is more fights than we’ve had in the decade before. The first time, I went to join a friend to look at her garden. The second time, I went to join her at a garden store.”

“I never planned to run for library board trustee. I’d assumed I couldn’t be elected after spending my twenties as an erotica writer, to the dismay of my poor parents.”

“One of the most striking aspects of Ursula K. Le Guin as a writer and thinker is how much she encouraged sharp interrogation of everything we believe or hold dear. This is a hard thing for most humans to do, and it is noticeably lacking in much of early speculative fiction.”

“The news broke with a phone call from England. A distant relative, calling my Sri Lankan American immigrant parents in Connecticut and asking them, “Do you know what your daughter is putting on the internet?”

“I’m frustrated by how frequently people at local forums use ‘diversity’ when they’re talking about higher property taxes. ‘If we raise property taxes, we’ll be losing diversity!’”

“Hosted on a shared Google Drive as our previous round tables, this discussion brings together five women with distinct styles and experiences who interrogate what it means to be a ‘South Asian’ writer in SF. In this thought-provoking exchange of ideas, issues surrounding representation, fictional tropes and belonging are explored and expanded with sensitivity. We hope this round table invites our readers to think critically about ideas of identity and community, challenges them to question any unconscious bias or assumptions they may have harbored about South Asian SF, and encourages them to seek out the diversity of narratives from the region.”

“It seems like maleness / masculinity can sometimes be a site of discomfort for some of you. Can you talk about that a little more, either generally, or in specific, such as when you’re at places like WisCon, or other SF/F forums, either in person or online? I’m wondering whether maleness is something you generally inhabit comfortably, unless it’s made into an issue by a focus on gender concerns, or if your experience of it is more generally problematic?”

“I was nineteen years old, at a party in college, and this friend of mine, Kira, had just broken up with her live-in boyfriend. I asked her if she needed a place to crash, and she looked at me for a moment, paused, and said, “Only if you know what you’re offering.” I had no idea what she meant, and blinked cluelessly at her — long enough for Kira to sigh, pat me on the head, and say “Never mind,” before going into the kitchen for another drink.”

“I feel the need to tell you this in order to establish my queer, sex activist, credentials. Even though you can be queer without being sexually active, just like you can be straight and a virgin. I know that. I know you do too. But I have such a hard time remembering that I’m bisexual these days, remembering, even, that I’m sexual. Sometimes I need to remind myself that once upon a time, I had sex. I had a lot of sex. Now I have a two-year-old and an infant, and I tell people my sexual orientation is tired.”

“This project grew out of my own experiences having a book published by a major American publishing house.  My original cover was an ‘artsy, literary’ cover, but under market pressure, the cover was changed to an image of a brown-skinned woman with wet skin, wrapped in a red sari.  I had heard that this was common for the covers of S. Asian books, so I eventually decided to do some research and see if that was actually the case.”

“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. I used to say those words every morning, five days a week, in homeroom, standing along a bunch of Polish and Irish-American kids, mostly second or third generation. I was born in Sri Lanka, but we came to America when I was just two years old, and I grew up in Connecticut, in a school where I was the only South Asian kid.”

“Four days before my departure for Sri Lanka, it is seven a.m. and I am standing in an airport in San Francisco. I was in Connecticut two weeks before, visiting my parents, have been in the Bay Area for a week, and am now supposed to be getting on a plane to Vancouver, to be on a panel about South Asian Literature at AWP, the associated writing programs conference. But I have forgotten that Vancouver is in Canada. I have forgotten that Canada is a separate country. I have forgotten to pack my passport and green card, the alien registration card that will allow me back into the United States, certifying that I am a permanent resident, with certain, limited, rights.”

A nonfiction excerpt from Arbitrary Passions: “‘Don’t worry — you can pass,’ she said, her voice low, her hand reassuring on my arm.”

I sent out an e-mail to several old and current lovers. I realize that this is not the approach that most people would have taken, and I hesitated briefly before sending the letter out, wondering, perhaps, if I were presuming too much on lingering affection and friendship. But in the end, I sent the letter, full of impertinent questions.

This is a true story. In the dark, there’s a woman in bed. Her lover’s hand is between her thighs, and he is rubbing what he thinks is her clit, but in fact he’s almost an inch off, and she doesn’t know what to do. She wants to tell him, somehow, but it’s not an easy thing to communicate…

Her back was sore, despite the pillows the guys had tenderly tucked around her when they settled her in the back of the car. Her back was sore and her head felt like it was stuffed with cotton; the baby was kicking and the last thing she wanted to hear right now was what she was pretty sure she was hearing from the front seat…