Virtual Event: Sanjena Sathian
in conversation with KARAN MAHAJAN
April 19, 2021
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series and GrubStreet welcome award-winning writer SANJENA SATHIAN for a discussion of her highly anticipated debut novel, Gold Diggers. She will be joined in conversation by novelist KARAN MAHAJAN, author of Family Planning and the National Book Award–nominated The Association of Small Bombs.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Gold Diggers on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Gold Diggers
Spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, Gold Diggers expertly balances social satire and magical realism in a classic striver story that skewers the model minority narrative, asking what a community must do to achieve the American dream. In razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian perfectly captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. This blockbuster novel both entertains and levels a critique of what Americans of color must do to make their way.
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn't share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents' expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal.
But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anjali's own mother in Bombay didn't waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil—who needs a whole lot more—joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.
Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft—only now, the stakes are higher. Anita's mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist.
Gold Diggers is a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation in to questions of identity and coming of age—that tears down American shibboleths.
Praise for Gold Diggers
“In a perfect alchemical blend of familiar and un-, Gold Diggers takes a wincingly hilarious coming-of-age story, laces it with magical realism and a trace of satire, and creates a world that's both achingly familiar and marvelously inventive. Written with such assurance it's hard to believe it's Sanjena Sathian's debut, this is a dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise novel about the seductive powers—and dangers—of borrowed ambition.” —Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
“Gold Diggers is so many things—truly funny, insightful, smart, and filled with wonderful characters. I loved reading this novel, and loved watching Neil Narayan grow up and grapple with the America his immigrant parents believed in. Neil's journey to figuring out what he believes, which includes a multi-layered exploration into the properties of gold, and his strange and wonderful friendship with his next door neighbor, Anita, make this story unmissable.” —Ann Napolitano, bestselling author of Dear Edward
“Is the American dream about hard work and sacrifice or is it about the lure of the Gold Rush, of quick riches there for the taking? Greed, regret and love are all at work here in Sathian’s completely original, utterly absorbing, complex and confident debut novel. A bravura performance from an exciting new voice.” —Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
Harvard Book Store's New Voices in Fiction series, presented with GrubStreet, highlights debut fiction writers discussing their work and the writing process.
GrubStreet is one of the nation's leading creative writing centers, offering 500+ classes a year in all genres, for writers of all levels. We believe that narrative transforms lives, builds bridges, and produces empathy. By rigorously developing voices of every type and talent and by removing barriers to entry, GrubStreet fosters the creation of meaningful stories and ensures that excellent writing remains vital and relevant. To learn more or find a class, visit grubstreet.org.
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