Nina McConigley, “Curating Your Life”

indian-cowboyA Wyoming woman whose parents are from Kerala, India moves to Chennai, but finds herself neither American nor Indian enough.

(from American Short Fiction Fall 2009)

In Chennai, paradise could be found on every road. The Jolly Paradise Bakery was on one street, on the next, Paradise Tailors. The New Paradise Hotel was squeezed between a juice shop and a beauty salon. Paradise Biryani was alongside a chicken shop, while two streets over was a Paradise Medicals.

I love stories about Americans in foreign lands, perhaps because it’s my only means of international travel. I’d never be brave enough to move to India myself, or even visit, probably.

This story could have gone badly. It’s a travel story. It’s a fish-out-of-water story, stuck between two cultures. It doesn’t fall victim to cliches or easy answers, though. The voice is clear and honest, and the writing vibrant. The author has a nice website and a book coming out later this year, Cowboys and East Indians. You should pick it up. I’m going to.

“Curating Your Life” isn’t online but check out her website, where you can read the title story from her upcoming collection, which originally appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review.



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