2022 NOVELLA PRIZE SELECTED BY MISHA RAI
May 2, 2023
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When Indian American Sita moves to the Norwegian Arctic, she finds a warm welcome from Mona, a local surfer from a refugee family who sees her as someone with whom she can be herself. But Sita’s not sure how to reciprocate, for as she begins to discover impossible fruits in the forest, she grows more unsure of who she is: a happy wife, when her husband seems impatient with her inability to assimilate? A good mother, when she can’t fathom what her baby wants? A pet-killer, when she was just acting on instinct? A terrible person, for leaving behind her grieving father and her best friend Bhoomija, a brown feminist artist struggling to get by during the pandemic? Or someone even worse, as she finds herself drawn to Mona’s partner, Morten, who owns the only land on which she feels whole?
When Bhoomija asks her to return home, Sita must take stock not only of the life she’s made in the far north with Mona, but also of the self she’s held back, lying in wait for forgiveness, and choose which version to make real. Drawing upon Hindu mythology, SITA IN EXILE is a lyrical exploration of migrant sisterhood and brown motherhood in today’s Europe.
Reviews & Such
- “[A] lyrical, complex exploration of belonging and exile” – Laura Dennis review in MER, May 1, 2023
- Sita is in exile; or at least, she is away, existing in a place of alienation, treacherous and insidious for all its comforts, much like that other Sita–those other Sitas–of South Asian epic, whose shadow she might be, or vice versa. Flirting with the conventions of fiction but simultaneously myth, and also faith sung between temple and mosque, and working in the margins of epic to unfold an equally vast and unsettling interior space, this novella is a powerful knitting, patient, still and strange.
— Vivek Narayanan, author of After
- I read this beautiful story in one sitting, only pausing to look out the window and stare at the clouds. This is what Rashi Rohatgi’s words make you do. They are woven together in such a way that make you want to slow down and savor each phrase. This book is marvelous and unexpected. What a joy to not know where the next page will take you, and what Sita will do next.
— Rebecca Handler, author of Edie Richter is Not Alone
About the Author
Rashi Rohatgi is the author of the prize-winning novella Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow and the first English translator of the seminal Mauritian novel Blood-Red Sweat. Her writing has been supported by Bread Loaf, Tin House, VONA, Sewanee, and AWP. Originally from Pennsylvania, she now lives in Norway.