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Cultural Myths


Sanjena Sathian
Gold Diggers

Sanjena Sathian was raised in Georgia by Indian immigrant parents. She is a  graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an alumna of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and a former Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Her debut novel Gold Diggers, soon to be produced for television by Mindy Kaling,  is a Good Morning America Buzz Pick and a New York Times Editors Choice. Her award winning short fiction appears or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review. Sathian has written nonfiction for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and more. She has also worked as a journalist in San Francisco and in Mumbai and has taught creative writing to high school, college, graduate, and post-graduate level students in Iowa, Alaska, India, and New Zealand.

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Kirstin Valdez Quade
The Five Wounds

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of The Five Wounds. Her story collection, Night at the Fiestas, won the John Leonard Prize from the National Book Critics Circle, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and a best book of 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the American Library Association. Kirstin is the recipient of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at Princeton.

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A myth is often a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes. Sanjena Sathian’s book Gold Diggers is a magical realist coming-of-age story that skewers the model minority myth to tell a hilarious and moving story about immigrant identity, community, and the underside of ambition. Discovering that his love is the beneficiary of an ancient, alchemical potion made from stolen gold—a “lemonade” that harnesses the ambition of the gold’s original owner—Neil sees his chance to get ahead.  In Kirsten Valdez Quade’s The Five Wounds, it’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption.

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