Cover image for The atlas of reds and blues : a novel / Devi S. Laskar.
Title:
The atlas of reds and blues : a novel / Devi S. Laskar.
ISBN:
9781640091535
Edition:
First hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
Berkeley, California : Counterpoint, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
258 pages ; 22 cm
Abstract:
When a woman--known only as Mother--moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer-- Here --is never enough. Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home. The Atlas of Reds and Blues grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today's America.
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Summary

Summary

"Devi S. Laskar's The Atlas of Reds and Blues is as narratively beautiful as it is brutal. In prose that moves between cushioning characters' falls and ushering our understandings of characters' utopias, Laskar creates a world where the consequences of American terror never stop reverberating. I've never read a novel that does nearly as much in so few pages. Laskar has changed how we will all write about state-sanctioned terror in this nation." --Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

"The entire novel takes place over the course of a single morning, as Mother lies waiting for help, and the effect is devastatingly potent." -- Marie Claire

When a woman--known only as Mother--moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer-- Here --is never enough.

Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home.

The Atlas of Reds and Blues grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today's America. Drawing inspiration from the author's own terrifying experience of a raid on her home, Devi S. Laskar's debut novel explores, in exquisite, lyrical prose, an alternate reality that might have been.


Author Notes

DEVI S. LASKAR is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Tin House and Rattle , among other publications. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and is an alumna of The OpEd Project and VONA. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is her first novel. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Laskar's stunning debut skillfully tackles hefty topics such as bullying, racism, and terrorism in a mosaic, lifeflashingbeforeone'seyes narrative. Set in 2017 near Atlanta, the novel centers on Mother, an IndianAmerican woman in her 40s with three daughters and a husband who travels internationally more than he's at home. One morning, after taking her children to school, Mother is gunned down in her driveway in an unexplained robbery; the narrative is told in discursive segments that jump around in time to present flashes of Mother's life, all while she lies dying. These short pieces cover her job as a former crime reporter demoted to obituaries; her North Carolina childhood and girlish fascination with Barbie dolls and their tainted concept of beauty; being asked, beginning as a child, where she was from, though she was born in the U.S.; her family's move to the Atlanta suburbs in an unwelcoming neighborhood where other kids torment her middle daughter and cops often question Mother about her husband's job. Laskar touchingly shows how Mother just wants to have a normal life with her family and rise above prejudice. Elevated by its roaming structure, this is a striking depiction of a single life. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

[DEBUT] Pushcart Prize nominee Laskar here draws on unsettling personal experience to craft a kaleidoscope-like story of bias in America. When her tenured professor husband was wrongly accused of racketeering, she had to endure the kind of police raid depicted, but here she imagines the main character resisting such a raid and getting shot. Mother, as she is called, works as an obituary writer and lives in the wealthy Atlanta suburbs with her three daughters and always-on-the-road husband. As she lies in her own blood, her mind tumbles through fragments of her life: her family history in Bengal, growing up in North Carolina with immigrant parents, being asked if she speaks English though she is American-born, the prejudice her daughters encounter at school, her own conflicted obsession with Barbie dolls, bitterness about being shifted to obituaries from crime reporting (including scenes of her work), the novel she's writing, and the beloved family dog, now dead. These fragments are told in sharp, poignant language and blend effectively to create the sense of a single life, rich, troubled, and now wasted. VERDICT An important story, inventively structured.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.