Poet Verma debuts with a candid exploration of what it means to search for belonging in a society riven by racial and ethnic prejudice. Growing up in rural Alabama, Verma felt perennially trapped in a “liminal space” between two cultures (“If God wanted me to be Indian, why had my parents left India? If God had wanted me to be an American, why did I look Indian?”). Addressing readers who feel similarly “stateless,” she explains how minorities in the U.S. experience both invisibility and hypervisibility as they’re simultaneously “targeted and profiled” and “ignored in ways that diminish our influence.” Such treatment, Verma contends, fosters social exclusion and loss of cultural identity. While Verma wisely avoids easy solutions, she advises readers to draw boundaries around one’s “time and energy” (by limiting news sources that cause “vicarious trauma,” for example), and emphasizes the grounding power of faith, because “we are perpetually seen, known, and loved by God.” A dizzying amount of ground gets covered here; as a result, worthy topics such as parenting in a racialized society, representation, and PTSD in people of color get somewhat shortchanged. Still, readers will be won over by the author’s bracing honesty, keen insights into America’s systemic inequalities, and measured hope for repairing them (“I can speak up, speak out, write, pray, think, share my story”). It’s a brave and compassionate look at questions of belonging, identity, and faith. (Apr.)
"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness so helpfully names and holds space for the challenges faced by ethnic minorities, challenges that are overlooked or swept under the rug. I felt seen by Prasanta Verma's thoughtful reflections, compelling stories, and poignant poetry. She gives insights of Jesus being in the margins with us and how Scripture speaks to and offers hope for our experiences of marginalization. I wish I'd had a book like this much earlier in my life and commend it to anyone looking to learn and grow in this area!"
"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a revelation. Prasanta Verma beautifully illuminates the joys and struggles of ethnic immigrants and BIPOC in America. Although ethnic loneliness is found inconsistently in other literature on ethnicity, racism, or racial trauma, Prasanta centers it. She skillfully shares this through stories about her family, India, American history, Scripture, research, and poetry. Prasanta invites us on a journey from ethnic loneliness toward embracing who we are and how we belong to God, ourselves, and one another. She also graciously welcomes and teaches us how to walk alongside those on this journey."
"With clarity and insight, Prasanta Verma gives voice to stories of isolation and marginalization that are often experienced by many immigrants and people of color. Her engagement with these narratives addresses critical issues faced by racial and ethnic minorities. The book also moves the reader forward toward healing, hope, and an understanding of culture and ethnicity that is rooted in Scripture. Verma reminds us of the God who perpetually knows, sees, and loves us. This book is a valuable resource to anyone engaging in issues of race and ethnicity."
"Before reading this book, I had never thought to give myself permission to connect my ethnicity with loneliness—even though I experienced it in palpable amounts. Prasanta not only gives readers permission for this and so much more in her offering, but she also holds their hands and walks alongside them as she illuminates a path forward. Belonging is deeply personal and spiritual, and it embodies the gift of community given to us by a relational Savior. I am excited that others will get to explore these topics in Beyond Ethnic Loneliness and be reminded of their place in this world and the world to come."
"Prasanta Verma not only takes readers on her journey as an immigrant to the United States but also does a deep dive into the struggles, blessings, and humorous situations immigrants find themselves in as they live, grow, and try to find their place in a country they have not originated from. She defines the complicated feelings of life in the in-between space while simultaneously reminding ethnic outsiders that not only do they belong, but their ethnicity is also beautiful and God honoring. This book will challenge your assumptions and help you walk in the outsider's shoes."
"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a moving read for any person of color who has silently carried the burden of isolation, invisibility, and marginalization in a society that has 'devalued, attacked, beaten, shot, lynched, enslaved, exiled, killed' those who do not conform to a 'white-majority culture.' Prasanta Verma's words provide the embrace I never received in spaces where I felt unseen and unheard when discrimination and racism disregarded my racial identity. If you work with persons of color and seek to comprehend these struggles, read this book now."
"Prasanta Verma wonderfully articulates what ethnic loneliness means for people of color through personal stories, poetry, and research. This combination of experiences and expert insights helps us move out of the shadows of subconscious discomfort toward acceptance, healing, and strength. Read this book to grow your appreciation of how our God-given differences add to the richness of living, relating, and belonging."
"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a literary basket brimming with goodness. Within its pages you will find a sojourner's memoir, a motherly embrace, a valuable glossary, scriptural insight, and thoughtful resources. Loneliness has been a backdrop to our human stories, and this project brings much-needed acknowledgment and practical steps to help fill the emptiness. I'm incredibly grateful to call Prasanta Verma a friend, a sister in Christ, and a leader of wisdom and grace. May her work spread far and wide into the hands and hearts so desperate to know that they belong—to themselves, in safe spaces, and to our God."