This August, join NYPL, AAWW, SAJA, and AAJA-NY for a celebration of award winning journalist Prachi Gupta’s highly anticipated memoir, They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us, named one of the best books of the season by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

How are stories in society constructed? How do we understand who we are when the narrative about us is stronger than our sense of self? How can we reclaim our narratives through storytelling and memoir? Join Prachi, writer Anuradha Bhagwati, sociologist Margaret Abraham, therapist and writer Sahaj Kohli, and journalist Lakshmi Gandhi in discussing the complex realities of both what we stand to gain—and lose—by acts of reclamation within the context of the South Asian American diaspora.

This program is being presented by Chatham Square Library of NYPL in partnership with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW), the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), and the Asian American Journalists Association New York Chapter  (AAJA-NY).


Prachi Gupta is an award-winning writer based in New York. They Called Us Exceptional is her debut memoir. She was a senior reporter at Jezebel and co-host of Jezebel’s former politics podcast, Big Time Dicks. She won a 2020 Writers Guild Award for her investigative essay, “Stories About My Brother,” which was also named one of the best essays of 2019 by Longform and Longreads.

Anuradha Bhagwati is a writer, activist, yoga and meditation teacher, and Marine Corps veteran. She founded the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), which brought national attention to sexual violence in the military and helped overturn the ban on women in com­bat. Anuradha is a regular media commentator on issues related to national security, women’s rights, civil rights, and mental health, and is the recipient of numerous awards. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Affairs, and The New Republic. She lives in New York City with her service dog, Duke.

Dr. Margaret Abraham is a sociologist, writer, researcher, teacher and an advocate for social justice. Known to most as Maggie, Margaret Abraham is Professor of Sociology and was the Special Advisor to the Provost for Diversity Initiatives at Hofstra University, New York (2008-2015). She was the President of the International Sociological Association (ISA) from 2014 to 2018, and Vice President, Research of the ISA from 2010 to 2014. She also served as the American Sociological Association Representative to the International Sociological Association for 2010-2014. Margaret Abraham is the author of Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States (Rutgers University press 2000) and the co-editor of Contours of Citizenship: Women, Diversity and the Practices of Citizenship (Ashgate, 2010); Making a Difference: Linking Research and Action (Current Sociology Sage 2012) and Interrogating Gender, Violence, and the State in National and Transnational Contexts (Current Sociology Monograph Series 2016). She has served on the Board of Directors of Sakhi for South Asian Women and the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA) and Westbury Friends School in Long Island, New York.

Sahaj Kohli, MA.Ed, LGPC, NCC is a therapist, writer, and the founder of Brown Girl Therapy (@browngirltherapy), the first and largest mental health and wellness community organization for children of immigrants. In this work, Sahaj creates resources that promote bicultural identity exploration and the destigmatization of therapy in immigrant communities. With a 6+ year career in journalism under her belt, Sahaj’s passion lies at the intersection of narrative storytelling and mental health advocacy. Sahaj is also a weekly advice columnist for the Washington Post and is writing a book with Penguin Life, “But What Will People Say,” to be published in Spring 2024. Sahaj and her work has been featured in The New York Times, TODAY, CNN, Good Morning America, Bustle, PopSugar, SELF, Quartz India, PBS, Smithsonian Channel, HuffPost, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, LiveStrong, CNBC and more.

Lakshmi Gandhi is a freelance reporter and editor who specializes in covering literature, identity. and pop culture. Her work has appeared in outlets that included NBC Asian America, HISTORY, Prism, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Additionally, she reviews books and films alongside her close friend Asha Sundararaman in their popular Lakshmi and Asha Show newsletter. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Follow her on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.




This event is in-person. Masks are highly encouraged. We keep each other safe.


Thursday, August 24, 2023
7:00 PM
Chatham Square Library
33 E. Broadway
New York NY
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