Tanuja Desai Hidier
Wilbraham, MA, US
Tanuja Desai Hidier is American-born and currently based in the UK. She grew up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts and graduated from Brown University. Prior to moving to the UK, she lived in New York City, where she worked by day as a writer/editor for magazines, CD-ROM projects and websites.
Her first novel, Born Confused, is a coming-of-age story with an Indian-American protagonist, an aspiring photographer living in New Jersey, and is set in both NJ and New York City, largely in the context of the burgeoning South Asian Club scene. The heart of Born Confused is about learning to bring two cultures together without falling apart, yourself, in the process. The book takes its title from ABCD, or American Born Confused Desi, a slightly derogatory term that the first generation South Asians in the States and elsewhere use to describe these second generation Americans who are supposedly “confused” about their South Asian backgroun. Desi is Hindi for “from my country.”
This theme of first and second generation India, and of finding your place in America, figures prominently in much of Desai Hidier's other work as well. her Partition-era short story, “The Border,” was awarded first prize in the fiction category in the London Writers/Waterstones Competition in October 2001. Also in the fall of 2001, her short story, “Tiger, Tiger,” was included in the Big City Lit anthology (New York City) celebrating the last decade of Asian-American writing. Earlier versions of both these works were part of the collection of connected stories for which whe was the 1995 recipient of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Award.
Desai Hidier's short films, The Test (she wrote and directed) and The Assimiliation Alphabet (she co-wrote and -directed) deal with many of the same cultural assimilation themes as her fiction. The Test has screened at the Tribeca Film Center as part of the 19th Asian American International Film Festival, as well as several other venues. It received an Award of Merit from the 1996 Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival at Vanderbuilt University and was included in the curriculum of a New York University course in 1997, South Asian American Youth Comes of Age.
Tanuja now lives in London, where she is the lead vocalist/lyricist in a melodic rock band.
ALA Best Book for Young Adults