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April 6, 2022 @ 12:00 am

S. 6 Ep. 129 Masala In a Mason Jar with Guest Neema Avashia 4-6-22

We’ve talked about many books on this podcast with an Appalachian setting. And in the Trump and post-Trump era, talking heads have been trying to understand Appalachia. After the publishing of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a book about Appalachia that many people love to hate, a whole slew of books by diverse Appalachian writers came out that showed other versions of this complicated region of the country. Neema Avashia’s new book of essays, Another Appalachia: Growing Up Indian and Queer in a Mountain Place really demonstrates those contradictions and strong sense of place.

Neema is a middle school teacher who lives in Boston, but she grew up in a small West Virginia town that was built up around the chemical industry that used the state’s coal to power its plants. Her parents migrated from India and Neema had what she felt was a magical childhood. But as much as she loved her hometown and home state, as she became an adult she had to to come to terms with what home means when you are Indian-American, Hindu, vegetarian, and queer growing up in a place that is overwhelming white, meat and potatoes, and Christian. Her essays ask interesting questions about what it means to love a place that doesn’t always love you back.

You can find Neema on instagram at @avashia and at her author website

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Books Discussed in this Episode:
1- Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia
2- The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa
3- Drowned Town by Jayne Moore Waldrop
4- Death in the Air: The Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson
5- Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Articles mentioned--
What Does the Image of the Cat Signify in Japanese Literature? by Dee Das

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