Tanuja Desai Hidier: Biographical Note

TANUJA DESAI HIDIER is American-born and currently based in the UK. Prior to moving, she lived in New York City, where she worked by day as a writer/editor for magazines, CD-Rom projects, and websites.

Her first novel, Born Confused (Scholastic Press; October 2002) is a coming-of-age story with an Indian-American female protagonist, an aspiring photographer living in New Jersey, and is set both there and in New York City, largely in the context of the burgeoning South Asian club scene. The heart of Born Confused is about learning how to bring two cultures together
without falling apart yourself in the process.

The book takes its title from the BC of ABCD, or American Born Confused Desi, a slightly derogatory term that first generation South Asians in the States and elsewhere use to describe these second generation Americans who are supposedly "confused" about their South Asian background. (Desi is Hindi for "from my country.")

This theme of first and second generation India, and of finding your place in America, figures prominently in much of Desai Hidier's other work as well. Her Partition-era short story, "The Border", was awarded first prize in the fiction category in the London Writers/Waterstones Competition in October 2001. Also in the fall of 2001, her short story "Tiger, Tiger", which deals with the very real dangers that can result from exoticizing, and self-exoticizing, was included in the Big City Lit anthology (New York City) celebrating the last decade of Asian-American writing.

Earlier versions of both these works were part of the collection of connected stories for which she was the 1995 recipient of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Award.

Desai Hidier's short films, The Test (which she wrote and directed) and The Assimilation Alphabet (which she co-wrote and -directed) deal with many of the same cultural assimilation themes as her fiction. The Test has screened at the Tribeca Film Center and as part of the 19th Asian American International Film Festival, as well as in several other venues, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Desh Pardesh festival in Toronto. It received an Award of Merit from the 1996 Sinking Creek Film & Video Festival at Vanderbilt University, and was included in the curriculum of a New York University course in 1997, South Asian American Youth Comes of Age. The Assimilation Alphabet screened as part of the 20th Asian American International Film Festival.

Tanuja now lives in London, where she is lead vocalist/lyricist in a melodic rock band. She is also songwriting for a "virtual" band project, with participating musicians based in Los Angeles and London.

[Postcolonial] [Indian Subcontinent] India OV

Last modified: 20 August 2002