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The Atlas of Reds and Blues

List Price: $16.95

February 18, 2020 | Paperback | 5.2 x 8, 272 pages | ISBN 9781640093416
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This Washington Post “Best Book of the Year” grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today’s America.

When a woman–known only as Mother–moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer―Here―is never enough.

Mother’s simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home.

Drawing inspiration from the author’s own terrifying experience of a raid on her home, Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel explores, in exquisite, lyrical prose, an alternate reality that might have been.

“The entire novel takes place over the course of a single morning… and the effect is devastatingly potent.” ―Marie Claire

“Devi S. Laskar’s The Atlas of Reds and Blues is as narratively beautiful as it is brutal… I’ve never read a novel that does nearly as much in so few pages.” ―Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

About Devi S Laskar

DEVI S. LASKAR is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Tin House and Rattle, among other publications. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and is an alumna of The OpEd Project and VONA. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is her first novel. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Praise

Winner of the 2019-2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Adult Fiction
Winner of the 2020 Crook's Corner Book Prize
Short-listed for the Northern California Book Awards
Finalist for the 2019 Clara Johnson Award for Women's Literature
Long-listed for the 2019 Northern California Golden Poppy Book Award in Fiction
Long-listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

"Devi S. Laskar used her own harrowing experience of a home invasion to inform her writing of The Atlas of Reds and Blues . . . The entire novel takes place over the course of a single morning, as Mother lies waiting for help, and the effect is devastatingly potent." --Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, The Best Women's Fiction of the Year

"The Atlas of Reds and Blues is a quick read, in part, because of these short sections, some only two sentences long. But it's a page-turner, too, because of the urgency of each small story, each revelatory memory . . . If The Atlas of Reds and Blues and the lyric, thematic and structural care the author has lent it are an experiment, then it is certainly a successful one." --Ilana Masad, The Washington Post

"A searing and powerful novel about the second-generation immigrant experience, making clear the ways in which America terrorizes its own people. It's a violent look at a violent place, and you'll feel forever changed for having read it." --Kristin Iversen, NYLON, 1 of 50 Books You'll Want to Read This Year

"Laskar has written a propulsive, devastating book that blends fiction and personal experience." --Elizabeth Sile, Real Simple, One of the Best Books of the Year (So Far)

"Driven by the fierce honesty in Laskar's prose . . . Atlas is both beautiful and raw, hitting readers head-on with what women of color grapple with daily in America--racism, misogyny, invisibility, and otherness." --Michael Adam Carroll, The Believer

"A poignant meditation on racism and police brutality experienced by people of color . . . The Atlas of Reds and Blues provides no easy answers. It does, however, delve deeply into the plight of ordinary people who do nothing to invite hate and yet get caught in hatred's web, only to find disentanglement almost impossible. Laskar's fine and moving novel is a step toward her own release, and with it she simultaneously offers readers a way out, too." --Soniah Kamal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A novel of identity . . . One of the beauties of this accomplished first novel is its simple and delicate structure." --Meg Waite Clayton, San Francisco Chronicle

"The author's fluid, succinct language in each short chapter becomes the border of an atlas, straining to connect to form a person. A place. A thing. Laskar shows how women, and particularly women of color, not only have to manage motherhood, marriage, and ambition, but also must fight for respect on top of it all." --Meredith Boe, Chicago Review of Books

"[A] devastating, poetic debut about racism in Trump's America . . . A powerfully written novel . . . Laskar never seems to polemicise; instead she gravely turns traumatic memories into fragments of poetry, floating in the ether, fighting for survival." --Nikesh Shukla, The Guardian

"Singularly sharp . . . It makes sense that a poet would write such a book: the novel, like memories, is prismatic and free-flowing . . . It's an unrelenting story, but the way Laskar renders it is vital." --Kamil Ahsan, The A.V. Club

"The Atlas of Reds and Blues makes me think of heat in a very literary way--it's bright, blinding, fast, and violent . . . The novel takes place in one day's time (and I read it in just about that same length of time) after Mother has been shot by the police following a raid on the family home. It's a too-true story of the horrific institutional racism immigrants face, and it will make you hot with anger." --Emily Stochl, Book Riot

"It takes place in a morning; it covers a lifetime. Short, vivid chapters, like puzzle pieces, deliver the thoughts of a woman sprawled on the pavement, bleeding . . . Not only does Laskar bring her honed skills as a poet and journalist to her pulse-racing first novel about otherness and prejudice, she also draws on her own experience of a shocking raid on her home. Laskar's bravura drama of one woman pushed to the brink by racism is at once sharply relevant and tragically timeless." --Booklist (starred review)

"Laskar's stunning debut skillfully tackles hefty topics such as bullying, racism, and terrorism in a mosaic, life-flashing-before-one's-eyes narrative . . . A striking depiction of a single life." --Publishers Weekly

"I loved the very focused and concise ideas and dramatic situation, the efficient and effective structure, the strong and precise language." --Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and judge of the 2020 Crook's Corner Book Prize

"Devi S. Laskar's The Atlas of Reds and Blues is as narratively beautiful as it is brutal. In prose that moves between cushioning characters' falls and ushering our understandings of characters' utopias, Laskar creates a world where the consequences of American terror never stop reverberating. I've never read a novel that does nearly as much in so few pages. Laskar has changed how we will all write about state-sanctioned terror in this nation." --Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

"A triumph of book, mining the most searing art out of a horror pulled straight from current events. Devi S. Laskar announces herself as a brilliant, bold talent with her debut novel. This is a book that should be read, and discussed, and cherished." --Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

"An unforgettable exploration of what it means to be a woman of color in contemporary America. Laskar describes the climate of lingering racism that surrounds her narrator and family in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta with a poet's touch. A searing, powerful, and beautifully written novel." --Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation

"Kaleidoscopic . . . a fiercely honest reckoning with today's cultural landscape, both its history and its future." --Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Café

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