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Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia

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In this title, the word “Indian” means South Asian, not Native American. The author grew up in the Charleston, West Virginia, suburbs, where her father, ironically, was the physician for Union Carbide for the sister plant to the plant in Bhopal, India, that blew up in 1984 causing the deaths of thousands of people. This is a book of autobiographical essays, not strictly a memoir, but it is fascinating and engaging from the beginning. Having this book available really helps us understand the depth of diversity in our region. It is the second book illuminating South Asian life in urban Appalachia that I’ve learned about.  Southbound: Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change is by Anjali Enjeti, a South Asian who moved from Detroit to Chattanooga in 1984 at the age of ten.  “Another Appalachia is a breath of fresh air, a work that the public is in dire need of reading. Wide and expansive as the land the author calls home, this essay collection subverts the mainstream’s hyper focus on white male-dominated narratives from rural America and commands your attention from the first page to the last word.” - Morgan Jerkins. “Neema Avashia, in this book, has named the unnamed, spoken the unspoken so that it does not become—to paraphrase Adrienne Rich—the unspeakable, and she has done so in language that is both lyrical and direct, both entertaining and edifying, both challenging and generous. I love this book and believe it introduces an important voice in America’s ongoing racial reckoning.” - Rahul Mehta. “An essential text to add to the new canon of Appalachian writing—a compassionate and rigorous memoir of the author’s experience growing up as a queer Hindu child and teenager in a small community of West Virginian Indians. Another Appalachia is a bright and deeply empathetic portrait of a complicated place, a place that Neema Avashia allows to be multifaceted in the way it deserves.” – Anna Claire Weber.

Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2022. 171 pages. Trade paperback.