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Vauhini Vara Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Immortal King Rao (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

I, Buffalo (2015)

Vauhini Vara is a literary fiction best known for her debut fiction work “The Immortal King Rao.”

The author was born to Indian immigrants in Saskatchewan, Canada where she spent much of her childhood. She would also spend some time in Oklahoma and in the suburbs of Seattle in her later years.
She began her journalism career working for the “Wall Street Journal” as a technology reporter, where she spent nine years.

After nearly a decade in Washington, she left and spent several years working for the likes of Fortune, The New York Times Magazine, Businessweek, Harper’s, and The Atlantic.

At some point, she spent two years working on the New Yorker as she launched, edited, and wrote for their business section. Vauhini still works for New York Times Magazine as a story editor and is also a contributor at Wired.

She has worked for the California Sunday Magazine as a staff writer and been the editor of the Fuller Project and the Atlantic.

“The Immortal King Rao” her debut novel was published in 2022 and won critical acclaim and was reviewed in a number of prestigious publications.

In 2021 “Ghost” her essay was named by Longreads and Longform on the list of best essays of the years and some of it was made into an episode of “This American Life.”

In 2020, Vauhini Vara made the long list for a One World Media Award and won the South Asian Journalists Association Award for her Businessweek published work “An Oral History of Globalization.”

She was the winner of the Real Estate Editors Award for her work on tiny houses which was published in The Believer.

Among other organizations that have honored her work over the years include the International Journalists’ Programmes, Asian American Journalists Association, and the McGraw Center for Business Journalism.

Vara would, later on, attend the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she studied creative writing. Her fiction has been published in many journals including Zyzzyva, Tin House, and McSweeney’s.

She is the recipient of an O. Henry Award in addition to honors from Yaddo, the Rona Jaffe Foundations, and McDowell. Vauhini works for the Book Project at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop as a mentor.
She currently makes her home in Colorado, where she lives with Andrew Altschul her writer husband, and their son.

Vauhini Vara got started writing her debut more than a dozen years before she published it in 2022. She was then working as a technology journalist and used to interview the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

As a journalist of Indian heritage, it always bothered her that there were hardly any SOuth Asian leaders in tech. It was this that sparked the idea of making her lead character a South Asian-born CEO who makes it big in the US.

She made her lead a Dalit man which is the lowest rank in the social order in the Hindu caste system. She decided to do this since her father was a Dalit who spent most of his childhood in rural India living in a coconut grove.

Her decisions turned out very prescient as by the time she published her novel, the CEOs of the likes of Twitter, Adobe, Google, Alphabet, Microsoft and IBM are men of Indian heritage.
The prominence of such men in the technology industry shows how far looking she was in writing what was something of a prophetic work.

After working as a technology reporter for several years and for several publications, Vauhini Vara started thinking of completing her manuscript. During the intervening period, she had a child which only made the demands on her time even greater.

As such, she used to take any sliver of time she could get and pen a few pages here and there on the Google Docs app on her phone. During this time, she worked full time and often used to take time in the evenings and on the weekends to write.

Sometimes, she would go for more than a year without writing anything. Writing about her protagonist was initially difficult for Vara since she had grown up in Saskatchewan, Cana, and then in suburban America.
Therefore, she did not have any personal experiences that she could draw upon. Nevertheless, she has said that this is her family’s story even though it is not her story.

Vauhini does not have first-hand knowledge of what it is like to grow up in India as a Dalit. Hence She decided to work as a journalist to research her story and hence headed to India in 2010.

Vara visited Andhra Pradesh’s rural town of Tottaramudi and interviewed her extended family and the many people who had grown up with her father.

Told from the perspective of Athena who is the daughter of the lead protagonist, it is a story full of nuance unlike anything published in the West.

“The Immortal King Rao” by Vauhini Vara is set in 1950 in a rural Indian village where some Dalit farmers are lucky enough to be the parents of a precocious child.

The child named King Rao is destined to grow up and become one of the most prominent technology CEOs across the globe and ultimately, the leader of a corporate global government.

In a future world in which boards of companies come together to run the world, Athena the king’s daughter has a reckoning of his incredible gifts and legacy to the world.

With climate change making things harder for everyone on the planet, Athena believes that saving her world needs a radical act of communion. She sets out to inform the shareholders of the world in sensory details.

She tells of her father’s childhood on a rural plantation in India, how he migrated to the United States and became an engineering student, and then got married to an ambitious artist that would be his cheerleader.

While he achieved a lot as a tech CEO he always saw his daughter Athena as his most ambitious creation.

Written by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, it obliterates the boundaries between speculative and literary fiction, the dystopian and historic as she confronts how the world arrived at the frontier of techno0logical capitalism.

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