Spring 2022 Fiction Preview: A Convergence of Solitudes by Anita Anand | Book*hug Press

Spring 2022 Fiction Preview: A Convergence of Solitudes by Anita Anand

Today, our Spring 2022 Preview series features Anita Anand’s A Convergence of Solitudes, a story of identity, connection and forgiveness in the lives of two families across Partition of India, Operation Babylift in Vietnam, and two referendums in Quebec.

Sunil and Hima, teenage lovers, bravely defy taboos in pre-Partition India to come together as their country divides in two. They move across the world to Montreal and raise a family, but Sunil shows symptoms of schizophrenia, shattering their newfound peace. As a teenager, their daughter Rani becomes obsessed with Quebecois supergroup Sensibilité—and, in particular, the band’s charismatic, nationalistic frontman, Serge Giglio—whose music connects Rani to the province’s struggle for cultural freedom. A chance encounter leads Rani to babysit Mélanie, Serge’s adopted daughter from Vietnam, bringing her fleetingly within his inner circle. Years later, Rani, now a college guidance counselor, discovers that Mélanie has booked an appointment to discuss her future at the school.

“Refracted through the lens of Quebec’s years of turbulence and hope, A Convergence of Solitudes tells the truth about the world: there were never only two solitudes, but many. By gathering us all, atoms of light, Anita Anand has focused the blazing beauty of our richness and possibility, transmuting us in our yearning and our pain into shining creatures of love.  This may be the essential story of our place and our time: the world, once and always,” writes Elise Moser, author of Lily and Taylor.

We’re delighted to share a little introduction written by Anita Anand. Enjoy!

In 2015, a few months after the publication of my debut collection of short stories [Swing in the House and Other Stories], I was invited to a book club. Everyone there had read my book. And each person there had their own take on it. One reader said she laughed a lot at the humour in the stories, while another gave her a look of complete incomprehension. Another said she felt like she was watching movies, and began to describe her favourite scene, one that I had almost forgotten about and had imagined slightly differently. Each reader was struck by different images and situations, related to different characters, had different opinions, as well as theories on why certain authorial or editorial decisions had been taken.  In other words, they found their own meaning, and told me things I didn’t know about my own book.

I look forward to witnessing that alchemy between my writing and my readers again with A Convergence of Solitudes. Hopefully, my decision to combine and link stories spanning pre-Partition in India, Operation Babylift in Vietnam, to the aftermath of the second referendum in Québec, will be an intriguing proposition. I set out to write a multi-layered but highly readable novel in which there is a sufficient variety of characters, settings and individual struggles to provide something of compelling interest to everyone.  I can imagine readers identifying with different characters and different struggles, disagreeing with each other, and finding new meaning.

I am especially eager to hear about all the movies.

In addition, we’ve selected an excerpt from the book, which you can read and enjoy below. A Convergence of Solitudes will be released on May 17, 2022, and is available now for pre-order now from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.

How odd that the girl reappeared in her life just when her own teenage obsession with her former idol had recently resurfaced. Just a few weeks before, Rani and Rob had been clearing out some junk drawers. They had both agreed to cull their collections of cassette tapes to free another drawer. Rob picked up a Sensibilité cassette Rani had dubbed from an LP and started reading the sleeve.

He popped the tape in the cassette player and stood frowning, listening to the lyrics.

Encore une fois je nais
l’évolution inusitée
d’une erreur contraceptive

“What is that supposed to mean?” Rob asked. “Being reborn?”
“Yeah, I guess they were into reincarnation,” Rani said.
“You know, it was the seventies. They had all this Hindu iconography on their album covers. I’d show you but I just have these cassette tapes now.” She’d sold her records and thrown out her turntable after being laughed out of a store for inquiring about new needles.

Rob’s face was thoughtful as he listened to another song. Rani remembered how her weird younger self would fantasize that the lyrics were for her, that Serge Giglio knew all about her—“l’Hindoue”— his most devoted fan.

“That’s a whole lot of synth,” Rob said.
“Well, yeah. Like I said, it was the seventies.”

She wanted to change the subject before she blurted out anything too crazy. She looked through a pile of Rob’s music and found four Genesis tapes. Rob said that he had been a big fan of the group as a teenager, but couldn’t seem to hear the music the same way anymore.

“It’s like the lyrics made sense when I was young, but just don’t anymore,” Rob said.

“Yeah, like some truth you lost,” Rani said, nodding.

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