This Is One Way to Dance: Essays
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About the Author
Sejal Shah is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and teacher. Her debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance, was named an NPR Best Book of 2020 and included in over thirty most-anticipated lists including Electric Literature, Lit Hub, the Los Angeles Times, The Millions, Ms. Magazine, PEN America, Self, and others. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in fiction and the author of the forthcoming story collection How to Make Your Mother Cry. Find her online at sejal-shah.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @SejalShahWrites.
Sejal Shah's lyrical This Is One Way to Dance deftly explores the intricacies of identity, culture, family, and what it means to be 'American' in our increasingly diverse nation. The writing is vivid, Shah's observations are nimble and wise, and the result is a book that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.--Dinty W. Moore "author of Between Panic and Desire"
This is a marvelously observant memoir, not only of Shah's parents' generation and their arrival in the United States, but also of her own generation's search for love, for a notion of home and belonging. While this memoir is frequently heartbreaking, it also dazzles with incandescent humor. One of the most nuanced, wise, and tender portraits of immigration I have ever read.--Kiran Desai "Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss"
'Oh, there we are, ' I found myself thinking more than once reading Sejal Shah's beautiful memoir in essays. Each of these pieces captures what it means to be a citizen of a country that may never claim you as its own, to imagine your own brilliant fullness beyond its peripheral gaze.--Mira Jacob "author of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations"
This is a sensitive, poignant collection.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
The poetic, probing debut from short story writer and essayist Shah forcefully tackles the complicated intersection of 'identity, language, movement, family, place, and race'. . . . In this sterling collection, Shah has created a striking self-portrait.-- "Publishers Weekly"
Shah's essays favor questions over answers; the book's comfort with not-knowing and ambiguity is an antidote to the unearned certainty of American whiteness. Her writing is lyrical and fragmented, and it couldn't be any other way: the language brilliantly skirts genre in ways that mimic the liminality, grief, and identity contained within each piece.--Kelly Sundberg "Guernica"
Shah navigates the shifting terrain of various labels . . . and what it means, ultimately, to belong.--Rudri Bhatt Patel "BOMB"
A narrative and lyric collection of linked essays that movingly reflects on growing up as the daughter of Gujarati immigrants, filled with as much dancing and joy as sorrow and pain.--Victoria Chang "Los Angeles Times"
Dancing, spinning, and twirling don't fix a body in place; they worry boundaries and borders. These elements define Shah's forays into creative nonfiction. . . The essays themselves, written, rewritten, and revised across different moments in time, become simultaneously a mode of invention and of excavation.--Amit R. Baishya "World Literature Today"
In these essays, Shah writes about dancing and food, growing up in western New York, moving through predominantly white spaces as an Indian American woman, friendship, language, and the places that have shaped her. Her prose is deft and graceful. Some of the essays are lyrical and meditative; others delve directly into a particular idea or experience. Her writing is so assured, her voice warm and open.--Laura Sackton "Book Riot"
A phenomenal first book that travels decades in its excavation, Sejal Shah's This Is One Way to Dance was well worth the wait. The body in ecstatic dance is a bridge and also an estuary in this prose, equally ecstatic in its precision and it vulnerability.--Dawn Lundy Martin "author of Good Stock Strange Blood"