Mitali Perkins is the author of the new diverse book, You Bring The Distant Near. She gave us so much hope with her contemporary book with a gripping, compelling and exciting novel to look forward to.
Check out my book review of You Bring The Distant Near
Living in different traditions, adapting in a different environment, adjusting to a new social circle. I really find it hard for the characters because even if I were in their position, I would definitely get tired at some point. I appreciate their driving force to live the life they wanted. What amazing about this novel is it stays original, authentic and natural.
- Was Ranee and Rajeev Das had an arranged marriage? Are you in favor of arranged marriage? What do you think the advantage and disadvantage of executing that culture?
Yes, they had an arranged marriage, just like my parents. For me, it’s not about how you GET married but about how you ARE married. No matter how well you know each other before marriage, people change and there are surprises. What matters is the level of trust, respect, and commitment in your marriage, whether or not it was arranged by your relatives (or by an app).
- There’s a phrase in your book that says, “It’s not a proper for a married couple to show affection in public.” I wonder, why?
Bengali culture is extremely modest, and especially so in the olden days. A married couple could have a sizzling time in the bedroom but heaven forbids they smooch in public. Friends of the same gender, however, can hold hands and demonstrate a lot of physical affection.
- Can you explain to us why Bengali husbands and wives don’t look directly at each other in the presence of others? Even if that ‘others’ are their own children?
Even a look may be smoldering, I guess. Privacy is a way of honoring each other and honoring the marriage. By NOT looking and NOT touching in public, you are demonstrating that any act of physical intimacy between husband and wife is private and sacred.
- Either by separation, or by the breakup, or death of someone. How do you think could it take a person to move on? I really like how you incorporate moving on or at least how it comes up in your book.
Grieving takes time. Love, even if lost, is honored in the slow process of healing. Tears are a gift but so is resilience. I just lost my own precious Daddy, so I am doing this now. Oh, how I miss him.
- Diversity has been one of the main focus in your book. Do you think people should be open about when it comes to diversity and should people accept it slowly and slowly destroy the stereotype wall within the society? Can you explain it in detail for us?
I try not to make diversity my main goal in storytelling but focus instead on my characters, who usually happen to be born outside of North America (unlike most of my potential readers/buyers.) If I let diversity, even though it is such a noble aspiration, overcome the story, the plot and characters feel stiff and contrived.
- Was it difficult writing a book with a lot of themes and it talks about biracial, women empowerment and immigrants?
Not really, because this book draws so much from my own life and memories.
- If you are given the chance to teach the world for one day, what would you teach and why do you choose that topic to teach?
The whole world? I would share the story of the waiting Father and the two sons that Jesus told in the Bible. The peacemaking and forgiveness revealed in that parable need to be offered to every generation.
- In You Bring The Distant Near, you somehow implied where Shanthi belonged and I love how you execute that part and it shows how someone is struggling because two sides want her to choose what she should be. How did you even think of writing that part? Do you think people would be more open-minded after reading your book?
I don’t like it when other people commandeer my one party of my hyphenated identity and tell me what they think I am, or should be. We all are a tapestry of identities, some hidden, some visible; discovering and expressing the weave of them is the miracle of being a human.
- If you are going to give advice to your 10-year old self, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep reading, honey, keep reading. It will return to you a thousand-fold.
- What is your favorite quote or phrase or even lesson from your book? Can you explain to us?
I like the title, YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR. The book was originally called BORDERLINES, but that was dull. My editor, in search of a better suggestion, began reading a lot of poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengali poet who is oft-mentioned in the novel. She called to say she had found the title: “You Bring the Distant Near.” I was stunned and touched. That phrase comes right out of the poem my grandfather in India sent to my “foreign” husband as a welcome gift to our family. My sister recited it in Bengali and in English in our wedding.
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) has written ten novels for young readers, including Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years) and Bamboo People (an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults) Her newest novel, Tiger Boy, won the Charlotte Huck Honor Award and the South Asia Book Award. She has been honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and selected as a “Literary Light for Children” by the Associates of the Boston Public Library. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the Bay Area with her family. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the East Bay where she is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.