CIRCA de Devi S. Laskar

Told through a series of precise, charged vignettes, CIRCA tells the story of Heera Sanyal, the daughter of Bengali immigrants, as she negotiates the complicated, strange proximity of love and grief and struggles with the divide between her parents’ and society’s expectations, and her own vision for the future.

by Devi S. Laskar
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Spring 2022

On the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, Heera and her best friends, siblings Marie and Marco, are rebelliously teasing what fun can be had out of life in Raleigh, North Carolina. But no matter how much Heera defies her strict upbringing, from pickpocketing to vandalism, she’s always avoided any real danger—until Marie is killed in an accident in front of her and Marco. Then everything changes. Marco begins calling himself Crash and over the years to come, spends his days womanizing and burning through a string of jobs. Heera’s dream of college in New York is upended by a family illness. She soon finds herself trapped in a loveless arranged marriage to a wealthy man and in-laws who become fearful of the devastating force of community gossip.
Over the years, Heera and Crash’s paths cross and re-cross, on a journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals—all in the name of love. Heart-wrenching and wry, CIRCA is a story of a young woman torn between familial duty and her own survival. Laskar penetratingly explores within these pages what it means to have an identity fractured by different cultures; issues of emotional inheritance, belonging, grief, and romance; and the many ways that people can disappear, both from themselves and others. Heera’s journey, from North Carolina to New York, and from girlhood to womanhood, reveals the beauty and darkness and revelation inherent in the paths of all those who not only want to survive, but to grow. The novel is also compulsively readable; a true one-sitting read.

Devi S. Laskar is the author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues, which was named a Washington Post “Best Book of the Year” and “A Book All Georgians Should Read” by The Georgia Center for the Book. The novel was the winner of the 2019–2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Adult Fiction and the 2020 Crook’s Corner Book Prize. It was also short-listed for the Northern California Book Awards and long-listed for the 2019 Northern California Golden Poppy Book Award in Fiction and for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Laskar holds an MFA from Columbia University and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been hailed by Marie Claire as “devastatingly potent,” by Booklist as “sharply relevant and tragically timeless,” by Jean Kwok as “searing, powerful, and beautifully written,” and by Kiese Laymon as “narratively beautiful as it is brutal…Laskar has changed how we will all write about state-sanctioned terror in this nation,” to name just a few highlights of praise. She is an alumna of The OpEd Project and VONA.

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