Author of the week
Shanthi Sekaran is no stranger to the American immigrant experience, said Anisse Gross in Publishers Weekly. The California-born daughter of physicians who emigrated from India in the 1960s, Sekaran grew up hearing her parents talk about the challenges of re-establishing themselves. From childhood, she also wrote fiction about immigrants, culminating in a first novel published in 2009. A year later, while driving home one night, she heard a brief NPR story that convinced her there was more to tell. The segment focused on an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant whose infant son had been taken from her and adopted after she was arrested in a raid on a Missouri poultry plant. Sekaran, a mother herself, was stunned. “I was just stuck in my car in the driveway unable to get out,” she says. She had found her next subject.
Sekaran’s new novel, Lucky Boy, is a product of deep research. In one of its two interwoven stories, a Mexican-born Berkeley, Calif., housekeeper is separated from her infant son after an immigration raid. In the second, an Indian-American couple adopts the child and fights to keep him. “This isn’t a black-meets-white book,” says Sekaran. “This is about brown meeting brown, and privilege meeting struggle.” In a recent New York Times op-ed, she shared her desire to fight the stereotyping that brands some immigrant groups as model minorities and demeans others. “Indian immigrants have done well for themselves, but their success doesn’t spring from some inherent well of virtue,” she wrote. “We succeeded because we had a path.”