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Shruti Swamy Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Collections

A House Is a Body (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of The O. Henry Prize Collection Books

with Diane Johnson, Wendell Berry, John Biguenet, Harry Hansen, John Edgar Wideman, Mary Gordon, Kevin Brockmeier, Robert Coover, James Salter, Ron Carlson, Ariel Dorfman, Nancy Willard, Kate Walbert, Christine Schutt, William Eastlake
First-Prize Stories from the O. Henry Memorial Awards 1919-1966 (By: Harry Hansen) (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Other Animals(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Shruti Swamy
Shruti Swamy, the winner of two O. Henry Awards, has had her work published in the Kenyon Review Online, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. In the year 2012, she was Vassar College’s 50th W. K. Rose Fellow, and has been awarded residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts, Hedgebrook, and Blue Mountain Center.

She is a 2017-2018 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University, a Kundiman fiction fellow, and was a recipient of a 2018 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation.

With her MFA, the most valuable thing she got was the introduction to the books that shaped her as a writer and as a person. But more than anything, she actually learned how to read: carefully, deeply, and slowly, which isn’t her natural mode. Learning to read well, and also being a sort of editor for the works in progress of peers, can be incredibly useful in somebody’s own writing life.

One of her parents’ earliest gifts to her was a sense of unforced delight around reading and having a lifelong love of the public library. More than any one piece of text, however, was her dad’s bedtime stories. He told her one each night, and made them up on the spot.

In the corner of her bedroom she has a very tiny desk which was called a side-table in its Craigslist ad, upon which she didn’t do much writing on before the pandemic hit. She has used it so much more after it. With her noise-cancelling headphones on, she tries to imagine that she is closing a door to the outside world, even though the headphones do not cancel all that much noise out.

Shruti tries to reserve the afternoon hours while her daughter naps for her writing, however she is generous with her definition of “writing”: reading, writing in her journal, and meditating, just not napping, all count. She was able to finish a major revision of her novel during the pandemic’s first month this way, running on the world-ending adrenaline of it, perhaps. She’s lost that focus, but she has been through fallow periods before so many times that they do not worry her all that much. Something is going to come again, if she is listening.

With her story collection, “A House is a Body”, she always knew that she was writing a book, even though the logic and shape of the book did change many times and rather profoundly from beginning to end. She believes that a good short story collection can offer up more than just a series of interesting events or characters by casting its eye over all kinds of people and situations, and can train you to see like the writer did, and apply that beauty-hungry eye to your own life.

Shruti wrote a draft of the first story of this collection in the year 2008, while the bulk of the book had been finished by the year 2015. But in 2016, she worked on the manuscript again with her agent in the year 2016, then once again with her editor the previous year. In all, it took her about ten years in total to write the book.

Shruti’s debut novel, called “The Archer”, was released in the year 2021. Her work is from the historical fiction genre.

“A House Is a Body” is the first short story collection and was released in the year 2020. In this debut collection of short stories, dreams collide with reality, myth with true identity, modernity collides with antiquity, and women wrestle with ego, desire, with mortality, and motherhood.

In the titular tale, one exhausted mom watches on, paralyzed and distracted, while a California wildfire approaches her house. In “A Simple Composition”, a husband’s single moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of an ecstatic and dark joy and the sense of something new starting. In “Earthly Pleasures”, a young painter, named Radika, lives alone in San Francisco, starts up a secret romance with one of India’s hugest celebrities.

With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories in this collection travel from India on to America and back again to reveal the tiny moments of pain, beauty, and power which contain the world.

Shruti delivers an intimate collection of stories which explores a range of human conditions, emotions, and relationships. The book is both riveting and tender, with prose that is searing yet still simple. She uses electric prose and imagery to bring both the surreal and realistic to life while writing with clarity and precision about some complex subject matter.

“The Archer” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2021. Set in sixties and seventies Bombay, the novel explores ambition, art, class, and gender roles with the same shimmering prose as Swamy’s first book.

Vidya, as a child, exists only to serve her family, watch over her little brother, and make sense of her motherless world. One day she catches sight of a class where the kids are learning a dazzling and precise form of dance, called Kathak, which requires the utmost focus and discipline. It soon becomes the organizing principle in her life, even while leaving home for university, falling in love with her best friend, and battles demand a substantial amount of her time, her body, and her future.

Can she give herself over to her art and also be a wife in Bombay’s carefully delineated society? Can she shed the legacy of her own unknowable and imperfect mom? Must she, herself, also become a mom?

Deeply sensual and intensely lyrical, with writing that is as rhythmically mesmerizing as Kathak itself, this is about the transformative power of art and all of the possibilities which love can open up when we are ready.

This is quite the unique and original novel set in Bombay, one that readers found to be thought provoking and mesmerizing. There’s a lot of food for thought here, and would make for an excellent book club pick. Shruti’s writing here ebbs and flows, making this entire novel like a dance of its own.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Shruti Swamy

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