"An excellent, exciting debut ... powerful, surprising and memorable"
CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI
Dia Mittal is an airline call-center agent in Mumbai searching for a better life. As her search takes her to the United States, Dia's checkered relationship with the American Dream dialogues with the experiences and perspectives of a global South Asian community across the class spectrum-call-center agents, travel agents, immigrant maids, fashion designers, blue- and white-collar workers in the hospitality industry, junior and senior artists in Bollywood, hustling single mothers, academics, tourists in the Third World, Afro-Asian refugees displaced by military superpowers, Marwari merchants in the Thar Desert and trade caravans of the Silk Road, among others.
What connects the novel's web of border-crossing characters is their quest for belonging and a negotiation of power struggles, mediated by race, class, gender, nationality, age, or place.
With its fragmented form, staccato rhythm, repetition, and play with English language, Namrata Poddar's Border Less questions and challenges the assumptions of the "mainstream" Western novel.
"An excellent, exciting debut, a novel that is not afraid to go into dangerous spaces and ask difficult questions. Border Less reimagines the experience of migration in powerful, surprising, and memorable ways."- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, American Book Award winner and author of The Last Queen
"Border Less is a novel that invites the reader into the twists, turns, and corkscrews of immigrant life. From call centers in India to affluent eateries in Orange County, CA, these characters are irreverent, sometimes raunchy, anxiety-ridden, but most of all, explorative. Poddar has a sensitive touch to moving between time, space, and generations to present a continuous portrait of adventures and hardships in a racialized, Brown body." - Morgan Jerkins, New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing
"Border Less is an intricate, dazzling tapestry that pulls threads from past and present-from Mumbai to California-crossing and blending stories and lives. Dia Mittal forges her way, inspired by and respectful of the generational dances, while also discovå?ering her own path as she seeks that 'ethereal family reunion'. In this novel, Namrata Poddar keeps her eye on the individual heart while painting the most expansive orbit; she is a masterful writer, bringing time and place to life with vivid story and color and memorable wisdom."-Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Hieroglyphics
"Namrata Poddar delves with heartbreaking delicacy and precision into the solitary struggles of her characters, whether in the teeming, sweat-drenched Mumbai metropolis or on sunny Californian shores: through the tiny yet deep epiphanies that close each chapter of their lives, she shows us how every woman is borderless, with minds reaching out well beyond their shores and bodies enclosed within rigid confines. 'We are all migrants as soon as we are born,' reflects one of her characters. But women are even more so as they try to hold on to their center, to their core, while being pulled in different directions by the dictates of family, society, lovers, husbands, children. Until one day - one hopes - the ferociously unique kundalini awakens and takes her due. "-Ananda Devi, author of Eve Out of Her Ruins, winner of the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie
"Border Less challenges the traditional form and aesthetic of the Western novel with a narrative of interconnected stories as layered as the human experience itself. Each of the novel's carefully drawn chapters explores questions of belonging and identity, complicated by geographic, racial, gender, and class distinctions, to name a few. Poddar is an ambitious and important new voice in the tapestry of global literature."- Aline Ohanesian, author of Orhan's Inheritance, finalist for The Dayton Literary Peace Prize
"Namrata Poddar is a fierce storyteller, and Border Less has a lively, singular cast of characters that burn in the memory."-Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana, and Editor-in-Chief of Aster(ix)
"Border Less is a serious transnational, feminist and postcolonial novel. It is a deeply moving narrative of a migrant's journey from Mumbai to Southern California and her displacements over multiple spaces and her moments of self-discovery. This is a novel that finally gives voice to the complexity of being brown and a woman juggling the intersections of class, race, gender, nationality, and place." - Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, Professor of English at Linfield University, and author of The Postcolonial Citizen
"Namrata Poddar's Border Less is a dazzling debut! The promise of each character, who appears through vignettes, is to take you through a Mumbai you only thought you knew. Poddar's characters emerge from crevices in the city and they cross borders of class and convention, driven by ambition, imagination, and necessity. With the ladies' special train commuter, you wonder, 'Who plays the central character and who becomes the footnotes in that fragmented city with a hollow center?' But the existential question that is cleverly posed becomes: do you have to see your blood spring from your body and taste it to look beyond the aggrieved resignation in the endless crowds of which you are a part? Pieces of the novel's puzzle gradually come together in the plot, which stretches from India through Mauritius to California. Characters are thrown up in a narrative that mirrors their intractability or tedium: a Nepali maid cooped up in a glass kitchen with the hopes of paying for her father's surgery; Dia who wants to be more Indian in her heart than in her habits; cousins whose separate lives across continents allow no reconciliation except in the rhythm of a childhood dance unforgotten by their bodies; immigrant parents and their American children negotiating family, home, love, and that elusive Dream. With a light hand but profound insight, sympathy, and humor, Poddar explores the new versions of gender and hierarchies that play out for different generations and different versions of 'Indians' in the US. With this auspicious inception, she experiments with hybrid literary genealogies, giving us a novel of poetic form and sensibility." - Anjali Prabhu, Professor and Director of Comparative Literary Studies, Wellesley College, and author of Hybridity: Limits, Transformations, Prospects
"Pitch perfect and beautifully written, this debut novel of dislocaå?tion, belonging, and return captures with acuity and a light touch our shared transnational present and complex human ties." - Francoise Lionnet, Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and author of Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity
"Namrata Poddar's Border Less attempts to advance that evolution for a new generation of immigrants and their children, for whom South Asia and the United States aren't diametrically opposed but rather interconnected through mutual exchange. ... In its tangle of "Roots" and "Routes"-its complementary halves-Poddar's debut sheds light on the inextricable networks that make up cosmopolitan India, its California spinoffs and the cyclical, multigenerational journey from there to here and back again." -Meena Venkataramanan, The Los Angeles Times
"[A] Story that is made whole through its fragmentation. A thoughtå?ful exploration of what it means to belong." - Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed News
"Illuminating debut . . . The range of perspectives harnessed announces Poddar as an exciting new voice in immigrant fiction." - Publishers Weekly
"Not only does this resonant feminist debut challenge normative narratives of immigrant life, it also disrupts the notion of the Western novel in form and function." - Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine
"Namrata Poddar ... has created an engaging debut by bringing us into the lives of those who leave and those who stay. If she is tilling familiar ground, she is also giving us a new set of characters. That the individual stories in Border Less can stand on their own is testament to her literary dexterity." - Martha Anne Toll, NPR
"The insights of Indian American diasporic experiences - where the borders of internalized colonialism and patriarchy are crossed and reinforced both ways - gives Poddar's literary effort its strength." - Gabriel San RomÌÁn, The Los Angeles Times: Times OC
"Eschews mainstream literary convention to stand proudly as a work that makes its own rules." - Alice Stephens, Washington Independent Review of Books
"Nuanced shades of brownness burst into life in the pages of Namrata Poddar's Border Less, a literary exploration of migration that brings together characters as endearing as they are complex: the Nepali housemaid who finds subtle ways of rebelling against her employer, the Californian surgeon who tries to educate his mother about sexism while remaining oblivious to his own blind spots, and the young emigre who cannot, despite all her efforts, reconnect with the cousins who remained on the motherland. As it roves across cities and deserts, lingering on the centuries-old frescoes that immortalize the stories of the Thar Desert, Border Less is itself nothing less than a lustrous and colorful tapestry of migration in an imperfectly globalized world." - Nikhita Obeegadoo, Catapult
"This is an immigrant story and the reader, no matter their heritage, will recognize similarities in family stories." - Joan Curbow, Booklist
"The story signals a unique approach to migration and movement." - Torsa Ghosal, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Gorgeous symphony of a novel that challenges so many preconceived notions of form." - Grace Singh Smith, Cleaver
"There's much to admire about Border Less: the bold risks it takes with narration and structure, its carefully constructed layers, the depth of character revealed in a tight space, and its examination of what it means, and costs, to belong. But perhaps its most impressive virtue is its staunch rejection of the measurements the white Western canon uses to judge literature and its confident demand to be read on its own terms." - Rachel Leon, The Rupture
"A multi-vocal exploration of a South Asian community stretching from Mumbai to Mauritius to California, and the ways in which these places and voices are depicted is a real highlight of the book." -Rashi Rohatgi, Brown Girl Magazine
"Border Less ... spans the relationships of families, romances, friendships. It spans physical distances, across deserts, and coasts, and the globe. It spans generations, cultures, class, religion, gender, all creating that broad tapestry of interconnected experience." - Winslow Schmelling, Hayden's Ferry Review
"Story by story, Poddar links the characters together, widening the circle until it encompasses the entire world and much of womanhood. ... The stories lash out at the patriarchy, particularly the last one, Kundalini, which evokes the anger of the goddess. Yet, in this expanse of alienation and frustration, there are moments of tenderness and grace. Through it all, women compromise, bide their time, and build a life, longing for the day when they and the goddess will rise. But first, their stories must be told. Border Less does that with distinction." - Raji Pillai, India Currents
"Questions mainstream modes of storytelling. Her style, which seems to draw on oral traditions, emphasizes repetition, rhythm and reinvention." - Khabar
"Poddar's novel is a pivotal debut of new writers honing in on the South Asian diaspora, but what makes her novel unique and a must-read is because she explores the gray areas of migration and identities that are a by-product of it-where one always belongs to the liminal space, always and forever in search for a home-for a place to belong." - Nidhi Shrivastava, Professor of English at Sacred Heart University, and bookstagrammer
Storytelling, and teaches literature as well as creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in French literature
from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in fiction from Bennington College, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA.