A lonely spinster marries a ghost. A live-at-home son writes dispatches from his basement. A laid-off techie tries his hand at doctoring day laborers without a license. These are the tales of antiheroes, itinerant workers and gender refugees in Tania James, Rajesh Parameswaran, and Xu Xi’s newest short story collections. Xu Xi, “a pioneer English-language writer” (The New York Times), chronicles the gaffes of women who just can’t seem to hit their stride in Access: Thirteen Tales. Tania James’s sophomore album Aerogrammes tells the funny and cringe-inducing accounts of missed connections. It’s a great follow-up to her debut novel Atlas of Unknowns, described by Junot Díaz as “wise and hilarious.” Promising newcomer Rajesh Parameswaran deploys dark wit of Lennie Small-proportions in I Am an Executioner: Love Stories, in which infatuated tigers playfully maul zookeepers to death and everyone’s part of the secret police. Parameswaran’s stories “combine narrative brio, ringing voices and beguilingly looped plots,” remarks The New York Times. Join us for an evening of fleeting encounters, what-ifs, and missed connections as Xu Xi, Tania James, and Rajesh Parameswaran explore the universal yearning to be human–whether animal, lost traveler, or outsider.
Tania James was raised in Louisville, Kentucky after a brief stint in Chicago from ages 0 to 4. Her debut novel Atlas of Unknowns was published by Knopf in 2009, and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a Best Book of 2009 for The San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. Tania’s short stories have appeared in a number of journals including Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, Kenyon Review, and A Public Space. She has also written for the New York Times, the Courier Journal, and Elle India. From 2011-2012, Tania was a Fulbright fellow to India living in New Delhi. Now she lives in Washington DC. We interviewed her about her favorite movies and superpowers here.
Raj Parameswaran’s short stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Fiction, and Book Magazine. His story “The Strange Career of Doctor Raju Gopalarajan” recently appeared in McSweeney’s 21 and won the fiction category in the National Magazine Awards 2007. It was nominated for the Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story 2007 and also appeared in the 2007 Best American Magazine Writing anthology and The Best of McSweeney’s anthology. He was short-listed for Best American Short Stories 2003; was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s ‘Very Short Fiction’ award and has been granted residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and Ucross.
Xu Xi lives in the flight path connecting New York, Hong Kong, and the South Island of New Zealand. She is the author of nine books of fiction & essays, and editor of three anthologies of Hong Kong literature in English. The New York Times once named her a “pioneer writer from Asia in English.” She has won an O. Henry Prize Story award and has been shortlisted for the inaugural MAN Asian Literary Award. She has also been writer-in-residence at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland, Kulturhuset USF in Norway, the Jack Kerouac Project of Orlando and the Anderson Center in Minnesota. In 2009, she was the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa’s nonfiction program.
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