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Avni Doshi Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Avni Doshi is a literary fiction author best known for her debut work “Burnt Sugar,” which was published as “Girl in White Cotton” in India.

The author was born in the United States to parents of Indian origin and went on to spend her mid-twenties in India before moving to Dubai.

Given her upbringing, Avni has always had an outsider perspective right from her teenage years up to when she became a fully-fledged adult.

Ever since she was in her twenties, she has never lived in the United States and hence she has at different times found herself an outsider in most places she has lived in.

She believes this is what gave her the perspective of an observer as she bore witness to the stories of other people, which she then distilled in her debut novel “Burnt Sugar.”

She was always intrigued at why she often felt a sense of being an outsider in the many places she has lived in Asia.

Upon moving to India in her twenties, she believes she would feel at home given the cultural connection.

However, she found herself considered different given her references and education made her background very dissimilar to that of the native Indians. It was this that got her thinking that she needed to pen a fictional work about her experiences.

Just like many authors, it was not so easy to write and publish her book. For a very long time, she just could not find the voice she needed. Still, things started moving fast once she let go of preconceived notions of what a novel needs to sound like.

It took her more than eight drafts to get the manuscript ready for publication and she almost quit. The only saving grace was that Avni Doshi is usually a very obsessive person and kept coming back to edit and rewrite her manuscript despite the challenges.

She continued to change and shift her ideas as she had new life experiences and moved across different continents.

Doshi has also credited her studies at Barnard for developing her interest in religion and South Asian culture from essays, novels, and historical texts that she used to read during this time.
It has to be remembered that she started writing fiction relatively late, as she was not sure what she wanted to do at eighteen.

She loved to study liberal arts during this time and therefore she read a lot of art history including the methodologies and theories of looking at art. She also read philosophy including the likes of Foucault and Derrida.
Ultimately, she decided to go into the literary world rather than stay in the visual art world since she was never convinced by the commerce around art and the art market in general.

Avni started out doing criticism and essays which she found interesting but creatively unfulfilling. This was the time she started experimenting with fiction when she had the time.

However, she has sad that she never consciously moved from the art world into the literary world. She just was not so sure if her book would be successful and in fact, was surprised when it became a bestseller.

Like many authors, Avni Doshi got a lot of encouragement when she won a creative writing fellowship at the University of East Anglia. Still, she had to deal with the obligatory rejections when it came to publishing.
She is an obsessive person but is also bad at handling rejections.

For some time, she got an agent in the United Kingdom and the United States but things just never worked. She would then move to find an agent in India and finally got her debut published.

What she was thinking at that time is that as long as she was p8ublished everything would ultimately turn out fine. Burnt Sugar would become very successful as upon its release in India it was picked up by a British publisher.
Since there are many similarities between Doshi’s life and that of the lead character in Antara, people have argued that the work may be autobiographical. For instance, they were of a similar age, Antara is an artist while Dosjho was a curator of art.

Doshi has said that to some extent the novel is autobiographical and in some ways, it is a fictional work that has nothing to do with her.

“Burnt Sugar” By Avni Doshi is a novel narrated from the first-person perspective of the lead character.

Antara makes her home in Pune, India alongside her American-born husband. The latter is defined by the relationship she has with her mother Tara.

When Antara was just a kid, Tara had left her marital home and husband and went to live as the mistress and disciple of a legendary guru in an Ashram.

This resulted in the young woman becoming estranged from her parents, her husband, and her young daughter Antara. The breach she caused has yet to properly heal and several years later, Tara who lives all alone is becoming demented.
Antara is forced to become a carer which is something she does not like, given that she had never had a very good relationship with her mother.

Weirdly, just as her mother begins to lose her grip on reality and lose her memory, Antara has to face the reality of her past behavior and what it would mean for her marriage.

The tension goes higher due to the interactions between two other generations. There is Tara’s mother who often has strange memories of history very different from what Antara has, and the newborn daughter of Antara.
The arrival of the latter causes Antara to go into postpartum depression, even as it unsettles Tara as he believes the small girl is Antara her own child.

The key theme in “Burnt Sugar” is the dystopian investigation into the relationship between daughter and mother.

It explores how the relationship evolves for the two parties from birth to early attachment, nurturing, independence, and teenage angst up to adulthood.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Avni Doshi

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