For fans of The Burning Girl by Claire Messud and Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi, a stunning, gut-punch of a novel that follows a young Indian American woman who, in the wake of tragedy, must navigate her family's expectations as she grapples with a complicated love and loss.
On the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, Heera and her best friends, siblings Marie and Marco, tease the fun out of life in Raleigh, North Carolina, with acts of rebellion and delinquency. They paint the town’s water towers with red anarchy symbols and hang out at the local bus station to pickpocket money for their Great Escape to New York. But no matter how much Heera defies her strict upbringing, she’s always avoided any real danger—until one devastating night changes everything.
In its wake, Marco reinvents himself as Crash and spends his days womanizing and burning through a string of jobs. Meanwhile, Heera’s dream to go to college in New York is suddenly upended. Over the years, Heera’s and Crash’s paths cross and recross on a journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, and betrayals.
Heart-wrenching, darkly funny, and buoyed by gorgeous prose, Circa is at once an irresistible love story and a portrait of a young woman torn between duty and her own survival, between obligation and freedom.
Laskar (The Atlas of Reds and Blues) delivers a poignant coming-of-age story of a Bengali American young woman and the death of her best friend. In a suburb of Raleigh, N.C., Heera Sanyal heeds the expectations of her immigrant parents but yearns for the American lifestyle of her best friend, Marie Grimaldi, with whom she spends long gleeful hours on the phone. Heera also gets up to late-night hijinks with Marie's older brother, Marco, such as tagging water towers with graffiti. Then, on the walk home after their school's Halloween carnival, Marie is killed by a drunk driver. Grief-stricken Heera quits her extracurricular activities but still works on her college applications, while Marco turns to booze and girls. Further misfortune emerges as Heera's mother is diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, causing the family to divert Heera's college fund for medical treatments. With few choices, Heera strikes a Faustian bargain of sorts by agreeing to an arranged marriage with a 26-year-old Bengali stockbroker, which would allow her to live in New York City with his family and attend the school of her dreams. The author intertwines lyrical prose (Heera lives in her "star-spangled desires like a dream") with lucid observations. This stands out as a fully realized study of contrasts. Agent: Reiko Davis, DeFiore and Company.