This collection considers the various kinds of movement and separation that have defined the Tamil diaspora in modern times: some universal, like death and divorce; others specific, like migration patterns, generational divides, and religion. Bhanoo is particularly interested in women's agency through these stories of dispersion - told so often from perspectives that render them little more than luggage - and the myriad ways they find to take modica of control over their new lives, and I found the women in these stories extremely compelling for what they represent about Tamil femininity outside the family unit.— From Akil
March 2022 Indie Next List
“In eight remarkable stories, Sindya Bhanoo explores the lives of disconnected families. She writes of bonds that are bent, bruised, and shattered, and uses memory to illuminate. With pain, grief, and love, the memories become our own.”
— Tony Peltier, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
These intimate stories of South Indian immigrants and the families they left behind center women’s lives and ask how women both claim and surrender power—a stunning debut collection from an O. Henry Prize winner
Traveling from Pittsburgh to Eastern Washington to Tamil Nadu, these stories about dislocation and dissonance see immigrants and their families confront the costs of leaving and staying, identifying sublime symmetries in lives growing apart.
In “Malliga Homes,” selected by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for an O. Henry Prize, a widow in a retirement community glimpses her future while waiting for her daughter to visit from America. In "No. 16 Model House Road," a woman long subordinate to her husband makes a choice of her own after she inherits a house. In "Nature Exchange," a mother grieving in the wake of a school shooting finds an unusual obsession. In "A Life in America," a professor finds himself accused of having exploited his graduate students.
Sindya Bhanoo’s haunting stories show us how immigrants’ paths, and the paths of those they leave behind, are never simple. Bhanoo takes us along on their complicated journeys where regret, hope, and triumph appear in disguise.
About the Author
Sindya Bhanoo’s fiction has appeared in Granta, New England Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an O. Henry Award, the Disquiet Literary Prize and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers conferences. A longtime newspaper reporter, she has worked for The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Carnegie Mellon University. She lives in Austin, TX.
A Debutiful Can't-Miss Book
A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year
"Tender and precise . . . Bhanoo’s focus is clear and tightly observed, centering the decisions and difficulties of a global life, some of them gut-wrenching . . . These stories rattle and shake with the heartache of separation, rendering palpable the magnitude of small decisions in our less-than-small world." —Samantha Hunt, The New York Times Book Review
"Yearning drives the characters in Sindya Bhanoo's elegant, sensitive debut collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere . . . These eight stories investigate the many ways that loneliness can enter a life and Bhanoo makes the reader feel every heartbreak through her skillful, measured prose." —Jenny Shank, Star Tribune
"Reconceptualizes the great American road trip, centering Indian immigrants—particularly, Tamil women—and their children as its drivers and passengers . . . The journeys . . . carry readers across the vast American landscape, transcending state boundaries and biomes to stitch a narrative mosaic, its patches cut from distinct corners of the country . . . Bhanoo tackles complexity with a light hand. The writing is lush and sensory . . . With Seeking Fortune Elsewhere and its glimpse into the lives of Tamil immigrants, Bhanoo artfully extends the burgeoning South Asian American literary canon’s trajectory." —Meena Venkataramanan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"This debut collection of short stories from Sindya Bhanoo is a rich exploration of the South Indian immigrant experience . . . Raw, honest, and intimate, Bhanoo's gift for storytelling shines in these short stories that paint full pictures and connect with each other, though they take place in different countries." —Kaitlin Stevens, BuzzFeed
"Eight slice-of-life narratives . . . Seeking Fortune Elsewhere favors the zero endings of Anton Chekhov and aims toward the emotional, if not the stylistic, lineage of Jhumpa Lahiri and Akhil Sharma . . . The appeal of Seeking Fortune Elsewhere resides in its gentle trust that culturally faithful stories can and should slip easily across borders." —Anita Felicelli, Alta
"An extraordinary debut collection centering the complex and diverse experiences of South Asian immigrants." —Karla Strand, Ms.
"Written with a roving curiosity, Bhanoo’s characters live and breathe like real people, their paths branching off the page and twining into your heart. "—Chicago Review of Books, A Best Book of the Month
"Bhanoo’s command of language is meditative and deeply human . . . Seeking Fortune Elsewhere may be ingrained in a sense of diaspora and displacement. But one can’t help but feel that in her brilliant writing, Bhanoo has found her place." —Valerie Wu, Asia Pacific Arts
"Given Bhanoo’s eye for setting and detail, the stories are uniformly compelling . . . Full of empathy and emotional truth." —Dr. Rajesh C. Oza, Khabar
"Luminous and piercing . . . Bhanoo’s prose is delicate, spare, and radiant with emotion . . . How to live with what’s missing is a question Bhanoo poses to each of her characters, and she lets them stumble toward their answers with tenderness and affection . . . Seeking Fortune Elsewhere is a companion in healing, a book that surfaces our longing and vulnerability. The stories in Bhanoo’s collection articulate a vision of sorrow, regret, and reconciliation, one which asks us to share space with and welcome them in our lives."—Melody S. Gee, Commonweal
"Throughout each story, Sindya adds layers of nuance, so each story has subtleties that are't immediately apparent until a second or third read. Most of all, Sindya's skill in creating compelling plots does justice to the characters within them, often showing the importance of compassion . . . In Seeking Fortunate Elsewhere, you can sit down with these individuals, knowing that even if they are fiction, there is someone out there just like them." —Shelf Unbound
"Exquisite . . . Bhanoo’s piercing stories further augment the growing shelves of spectacular first short story collections by women of color." —Booklist (starred review)
“Stunning . . . Bhanoo transforms human drama into mystery. Graceful stories by a writer with enormous empathy for even the most flawed and forlorn among us.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Stunning . . . Bhanoo finds novel ways for her protagonists to cope with adversity . . . This introduces a great new talent." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Seeking Fortune Elsewhere is a rare and breathtaking achievement, a collection of stories so original, so richly imagined and powerfully rendered, that it seems timeless. Each story is a multi-faceted jewel, refracting love and loss, casting a new and profound light on the shadows of the human heart. With her boundless talent, fierce intellect, and abiding curiosity about the souls of her characters, Sindya Bhanoo arrives as one of the most important writers of her generation." —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This
"This achingly beautiful collection charts the emotional journeys and complicated ties of those who choose to leave and those who are left behind. You will ache for the women at the center of these powerful stories. You will cry for their losses and celebrate their tiny victories. Bhanoo's stories affirm humanity as only good literature can achieve. A magnificent debut of a writer you will read for years to come." —Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept