Real Fiction Radio Broadcast: July 8, 2020 12 p.m. ET on WERA-FM 96.7 Arlington, VA
MEMBERS ONLY - Publication Date: (July 7, 2020 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
SAMEER PANDYA is the author of the story collection The Blind Writer, which was long listed for the PEN/Open Book Award. He is also the recipient of the PEN/Civitella Fellowship. His fiction, commentary, and cultural criticism has appeared in a range of publications, including the Atlantic, Salon, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Narrative Magazine. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In MEMBERS ONLY readers meet Raj Bhatt, a middle-aged, Indian American college lecturer living in Southern California. He’s married to a white woman, is the father of two mixed-race kids, and belongs to an exclusive, very white tennis club. And it’s there that, in the course of one swift week, his life unravels. Raj is hopeful that the tennis club will become more diverse. But in an effort to connect with an African American couple applying for membership, he says something offensive. He becomes the club pariah, ostracized by the white members whose prejudice he’s dealt with for years. Adding insult to injury, he’s soon under investigation at the university where he works for reverse racism, after a group of students report his alleged “anti-Western bias.”
In the book Pandya takes a deeper look at what belonging means, and examines the liminal space between black and white America. What privileges does brownness afford, and what prejudices are swept under the rug?