World Hotel

Overview

Born in India and raised in the U.S., Reetika Vazirani is at the forefront of a group of young immigrant writers who are questioning citizenship and the effects of migration and immigration on the discovery of one’s self. The topics she writes about—eastern culture meeting west—are both timely and timeless, as she demonstrates a love for storytelling, delights in the music and flavors of the world, and displays a subtle understanding of cross-cultural conflicts for women.

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Overview

Born in India and raised in the U.S., Reetika Vazirani is at the forefront of a group of young immigrant writers who are questioning citizenship and the effects of migration and immigration on the discovery of one’s self. The topics she writes about—eastern culture meeting west—are both timely and timeless, as she demonstrates a love for storytelling, delights in the music and flavors of the world, and displays a subtle understanding of cross-cultural conflicts for women.

Divided into two sections, "Inventing Maya" and "It’s Me, I’m Not at Home," World Hotel gives voice to those who are struggling with the burden of being different while also experiencing the thrill of transformation. There are poems written in memory of family members, to husbands, to lovers, and poems from mother to daughter. Through her exquisite formal skills and linguistic range, Vazirani ultimately creates a home in poetry; for her readers she creates penetrating portraits and keen glimpses into a world which—for all its unfamiliarity—we recognize as strikingly similar to our own.

The Chapel Hill Rotary invited me twice,
and I wore Aunty’s yellow sari. I laugh,
for ten years I lived on a mountain.
I show them Mussoorie.
They say it looks like the Blue Ridge.
They’re fascinated by so much silk—six yards on one girl—but I like dresses and scarves, red nail polish, and I will have to learn to dance. . . .
—from "Friday Mixer"

Born in India, Reetika Vazirani’s first book, White Elephants, was selected for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. She has received much recognition for her poetry, including a Pushcart Prize, a "Discovery" award from The Nation, and inclusion in Best American Poetry. Educated at Wellesley College and the University of Virginia, Vazirani serves as an advisory editor for Callaloo.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eight years after her well-received debut, White Elephants, Vazirani returns with a skillful, inviting sophomore effort, exploring South Asian, North American and Caribbean heritage, geography and language through a variety of masks and voices. Foremost among those voices is the articulate woman (apparently based on Vazirani's mother) who tells her own complex life story in "Inventing Maya," a careful sequence that forms the first half of this book: its detailed short poems follow Maya through her north Indian childhood ("In the Himalayas, I ran faster than any girl"), overseas to Washington, D.C., and then through an eventful adult life (spent mostly in the U.S.), where she remembers "those who had/ no books to brace/ them in the havoc." With its blend of tersely bittersweet lyricism and biographical data, "Inventing" might be a South Asian-American answer to Rita Dove's famous sequence Thomas and Beulah (which chronicled Dove's grandparents): Vazirani's sequence stands up very well beside that imposing model. The book's second half occupies quite other territory, pursuing in villanelle, sestina, semi-ghazal, Cavafy-esque narrative and other, more compressed forms the poet's own contemporary concerns. Though Vazirani's light verse can fall flat, the serious poems toward the close of the volume return to her strengths, among them clarity, geographical detail, and a way with short, unpunctuated lines: "Dedicated to You" (about posthumous fame) begins spry and ends with remarkable gravity, while "It's a Young Country" ties America's troubles convincingly to the poet's own. (Feb.) Forecast: A recent profile in Poets & Writers should raise awareness of Vazirani's work among her fellow writers, and this book's style and substance should get it nominated for one or another prize. With Copper Canyon riding high on its two NBA nominations (and Ruth Stone's winning of the award), interest in this title will be further bolstered.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556591839
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Hollywood and Hydroquinone 3
English 7
Boarding 9
Friday Mixer 15
The Great Hall 16
Tiffin for Tea, Lorry for Truck 18
Chanel Lipstick 19
The Bus North 21
William's Visit 22
May Queen 23
Nudes 24
It's Raining 26
What I Was Thinking When He Didn't Write 27
What My Best Friend Said to Console Me 28
To Richmond and Back 29
My Brother, the Wedding 30
Going to See the Taj Mahal 31
Maharaja of Patiala 33
Pergola 36
One Week in the Village 37
Western-Trained in the Other World 38
Aerogram Punjab 39
Gina Lollobrigida 40
Rahim Multani 41
Daughters in the Morning 44
The Lover 45
Dream of the Evil Servant 47
Pandavas' Gamble 49
A Night on the Queen Mary 50
Gardening: Hollywood Lane 53
Ramayana 55
Watching the News 56
Beads on a Mala 58
Quiet Death in a Red Closet 59
Maya to Herself and Then to Her Gardener 60
Letter to Jaipur 61
Days in Punjab 63
Seeta 65
Boucheron, Shalimar, More Shoes 66
Daughter-Mother-Maya-Seeta 68
At the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture among Youth 73
It's Me, I'm Not Home 75
What to Look for in a Man 76
A Winter Afternoon 77
When I Was a Housewife 78
No Complaints 79
Type A 80
Lullaby 82
Beijing 83
A Holiday at Home 84
Confederate 85
Personal Ads 87
Nikos of Caravy Street 89
Nikos at 42 91
To Angelina from Nikos in His Old Age 94
Laleh of Caravy Street 96
Letter to the Moor 97
Remembering Jean Rhys 99
Hamlet out in the Night 100
From the Postcard at Vertigo Books in D.C. 101
Emigration 102
No Sabotage 105
Letter from Blacksburg 106
Self and Soul Take Two 108
To Imran in Bombay 109
Dolmen Builder 111
Shuffle 112
Dedicated to You 114
It's a Young Country 116
About the Author 119
Notes and Dedications 120
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