Hello and welcome to Episode 59 of Desi Books—news and views about desi literature from the world over. I’m your host, Jenny Bhatt. Thank you for tuning in.
In today’s #DesiCraftChat, we have Kirthana Ramisetti discussing her debut novel, Dava Shastri’s Last Day, which is out this month. In this conversation, we talked about the challenges of creating older women protagonists, writing a debut novel filled with many themes and characters, how her journalism work helped her write this novel—and much more.
#DESICRAFTCHAT WITH KIRTHANA RAMISETTI — INTRODUCTION
Kirthana Ramisetti worked in media for over ten years before coming to fiction. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and her work has appeared in Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and more. A pop culture addict whose brain is a repository for random information, she’d make an excellent addition to your trivia team. Her debut novel, Dava Shastri’s Last Day, is out now. She lives in New York City.
Dava Shastri’s Last Day is about a multicultural family in the US. A dying billionaire matriarch leaks news of her death early so she can examine her legacy—a decision that horrifies her children and exposes secrets she has spent a lifetime hiding. Dava Shastri, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has always lived with her sterling reputation in mind. A brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, however, changes everything, and Dava decides to take her death—like all matters of her life—into her own hands. Summoning her four adult children to her private island, she discloses shocking news: in addition to having a terminal illness, she has arranged for the news of her death to break early, so she can read her obituaries. As someone who dedicated her life to the arts and the empowerment of women, Dava expects to read articles lauding her philanthropic work. Instead, her “death” reveals two devastating secrets—truths she thought she had buried forever. Compassionately written and chock-full of humor and heart, this novel examines public versus private legacy, the complexities of love, and the never-ending joys and frustrations of family.
On a personal note, I appreciated the fact that the book features a seventy-year-old Indian American protagonist, which isn’t something we see often in fiction. Kirthana’s music-related background comes through in all of the music-related bits. As well as her great sense of humor. So I think this novel pretty much has it all. It’s a family saga but it’s got something for everyone as you’ll hear when you listen to our conversation.
Here’s Kirthana Ramisetti now.
#DESICRAFTCHAT WITH KIRTHANA RAMISETTI
You’ve been listening to episode 59 of Desi Books—news and views about desi literature from the world over. I’m your host, Jenny Bhatt. Thank you for tuning in.
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