City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
in conversation with Oscar Villalon
celebrating the release of
from G.P. Putnam & Sons
A gripping tale of adventure and searing reality, Lucky Boy gives voice to two mothers bound together by their love for one lucky boy.
Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen and drunk on optimism when she embarks on a perilous journey across the US/Mexican border. Weeks later she arrives on her cousin's doorstep in Berkeley, CA, dazed by first love found then lost, and pregnant. This was not the plan. But amid the uncertainty of new motherhood and her American identity, Soli learns that when you have just one precious possession, you guard it with your life. For Soli, motherhood becomes her dwelling and the boy at her breast her hearth.
Kavya Reddy has always followed her heart, much to her parents' chagrin. A mostly contented chef at a UC Berkeley sorority house, the unexpected desire to have a child descends like a cyclone in Kavya's mid-thirties. When she can't get pregnant, this desire will test her marriage, it will test her sanity, and it will set Kavya and her husband, Rishi, on a collision course with Soli, when she is detained and her infant son comes under Kavya's care. As Kavya learns to be a mother--the singing, story-telling, inventor-of-the-universe kind of mother she fantasized about being--she builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else's child.
Lucky Boy is an emotional journey that will leave you certain of the redemptive beauty of this world. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaran has taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory.
Shanthi Sekaran teaches creative writing at California College of the Arts, and is a member of the Portuguese Artists Colony and the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. Her work has appeared in Best New American Voices and Canteen, and online at Zyzzyva and Mutha Magazine. Her first novel, The Prayer Room, was published by MacAdam Cage.
Oscar Villalon is the Managing Editor of Zyzzyva Magazine. He has formerly served as book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. A member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, he's also a long-time juror of the California Book Awards, sponsored by the Commonwealth Club. His writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and The Believer, and his reviews have aired on KQED's The California Report.
What has been said about the work of Shanthi Sekaran:
"Remarkably empathetic . . . Deeply compassionate . . . Delivers penetrating insights into the intangibles of motherhood and indeed, all humanity." —Booklist (starred)
"How lucky the reader who gets to devour Shanthi Sekaran's extraordinary, necessary novel. Lucky Boy is both timely and timeless, depicting the comedy and delights of the world as well as its brutalities and injustices. It's a story about immigration, privilege, and parenthood, and shows us how we are connected, and how we are, perhaps irreparably, divided. It swept me away and took a little piece of my heart with it. It's a perfect book." —Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of California
"Shanthi Sekaran has written a lush and emotionally wrenching novel, and she has written it in some of the most beautiful prose I've read in a long time. This is a fiercely compassionate story about the bonds and the bounds of motherhood and, ultimately, of love." —Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
"Sekaran is a master of drawing detailed, richly layered characters and relationships; here are the subtly nuanced lines of love and expectation between parents and children; here, too are moments of great depth and insight. A superbly crafted and engrossing novel." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Shanthi Sekaran is a wonderful writer—lyrical and astute, compassionate and fearless—and Lucky Boy is a heartfelt and moving novel that challenges our notions of motherhood and the true meaning of home. A deeply beautiful book." —Molly Antopol, award-winning author of The UnAmericans
“[H]umanizes current discussions of immigration, privilege, and what it means to be an American. . . . Sekaran evokes compassion for all the principals involved in the story . . . highly recommended and would be a strong choice for book clubs.” —Library Journal (starred review)
"In Lucky Boy Shanthi Sekaran has fashioned an ambitious, compassionate and intelligent book with new things to say on the timely subjects of motherhood, fertility, class and identity. This is a deeply human and humane novel by a gifted young writer." —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me
“A gripping, obsessive, character-driven narrative of sacrifice and identity—where the lives of two women become forever tangled in the roots of motherhood.” —Simon Van Booy, award-winning author of The Illusion of Separateness
"Ambitious in its scope and triumphant in its bold, insightful observation of the flaws and wonders of human nature, Lucky Boy is a gripping tale about two seemingly distant realities intimately seared together by the inescapable forces of motherhood and survival: that of the celebrated upper-crust Silicon Valley visionary entrepreneurs, and that of the lower-class largely overlooked service workers whose underpaid efforts are the real foundation of the Valley's success. Shanthi Sekaran has written an elegantly weaved, heart-stopping novel that highlights the helplessness of money over nature and the futility of technology against true love. You'll have a hard time putting down this book, and when you finish it, you'll have a hard time not thinking, and aching, about it for a long, long time." —Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, author of Barefoot Dogs
"Shanthi Sekaran is a tough and tender writer, unafraid to dig deep into the messy places in our hearts and lives. Lucky Boy is wonderful, a gripping read and an important story." —Michelle Tea, author of Rent Girl
"There is something so satisfying about a story that ends as it should." —Laura McBride, author of We Are Called to Rise
"Humanizes the issue of illegal immigration . . . readers will be emotionally invested." —Publishers Weekly