MEET THE RESTLESS BOOKS PRIZE WINNER
10th of May, 2016 in Fiction
The inaugural recipient of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, which will reward $10,000 and publication to a first-time, first-generation American author each year, was revealed earlier today by Literary Hub. Deepak Unnikrishnan wins the 2016 prize for his novel Temporary People, a collection of interconnected stories about migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates that the judges describe as “a daring, stylistically creative book that offers a terrifying, bizarre universe that’s all too true to life.” Continue reading for the author’s introduction to the book, as well as a sample from Lit Hub. Restless Books will release Temporary People in early 2017.
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In 2001, I arrived in America as a chance migrant. I had left Abu Dhabi for college in the United States. I was twenty years old at the time. My departure was unavoidable for my parents, Indian migrants, and temporary workers in the UAE. The United Arab Emirates does not offer citizenship to its foreign workers or their offspring. Because my father was broke, I fully anticipated the American Embassy to reject my student visa application. Despite this, I was not interrogated at the embassy. I was simply told to come back the next week to pick up my passport. I worked as a library assistant, resident assistant, gardener, and mover in Jersey, where I obtained my BA. Webemtech
I worked for a television station in New York. I worked three jobs to fund rent and food when I moved to Chicago by train to pursue my MFA on scholarship at the Art Institute. I housesat and watched other people’s pets after college, struggling to find regular income and virtually out of status, as I polished the manuscript for Temporary People, the reason I came to the Midwest.
Temporary People is a work of fiction set in the United Arab Emirates, where I grew up and where foreign nationals account for more than 80% of the population. It is a country founded by individuals who will be forced to leave at some point.
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The so-called Gulf guest workers, their histories, myths, hardships, and successes have hardly been treated in fiction. The twenty-eight stories in Temporary People, divided into three sections (Limbs. Tongue. Home), begin with three construction workers escaping a labor camp and examine temporary residents like them and the homes they have left behind, illuminating how temporary status affects psyches, families, memories, fables, and language (s). The novel is written in a mix of English and Malayalam slang, fine-tuned in an Indian school on Emirati land, and jazzed up with American, Arabic, and British television. When a country’s main demography is people from other countries, the book also looks at the mispronunciations and word appropriations that occur. the street, the person’s face, and the sounds (MEET THE RESTLESS BOOKS PRIZE WINNER FOR NEW IMMIGRANT WRITING 2022)
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