Avni Doshi

Cindy Seip

Working as an art writer and curator in India, New Jersey-born Avni Doshi began writing fiction. It was a good decision, one that led to a Tibor Jones South Asia Prize and a Charles Pick Fellowship. In her debut book Burnt Sugar: A Novel (The Overlook Press) – shortlisted for the TATA Literature Award upon its publication in India and in the United States for the 2020 Booker Prize – we meet Antara, who characterizes her relationship with Tara thusly: “I would be lying if I say my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.” Wild and reckless in her youth, Tara abandoned her marriage to join an ashram, and while she was busy as a partner to its spiritual leader, little Antara was cared for by an older devotee. She also embarked on a stint as a beggar and spent years chasing a homeless artist, all with young Antara in tow. But now Tara is forgetting things and Antara is an adult who must search for a way to make peace with the past, as she confronts the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her. Burnt Sugar is a story of love and betrayal between a mother and a daughter, and an exploration of the subjective nature of truth. The Washington Post called it “a work of extraordinary insight, courage, and sophistication.”