“Love Songs for a Lost Continent is an expansive, inventive meditation on the shifting landscape of identity, on how people can be shaped and reshaped by violence and power and love. Anita Felicelli has a singular eye for the moments that transfigure lives, and this tremendous debut collection announces the arrival of a stunning new voice.”
– Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“Love Songs for a Lost Continent is the kind of work that we all need to be reading right now. Filled with heart and heat, these beautiful stories pursue and reinvent ideas of home and self in ways that push our national conversation on identity.”
– Bich Minh Nguyen, author of Pioneer Girl and Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
"Tigers, swans and rampion—Anita Felicelli’s Love Songs for a Lost Continent captures the senses with skillful explorations of sexual being and human vulnerability. This collection not only rallies the imagination, it challenges the intellectual self and the diverse self. A beautifully rendered collection, both enchanting and lyrical."
– Rae Bryant, author of The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals and editor of Eckleburg
"Surprising, surreal sometimes, and strong in theme and exploration, these stories probe the limits of love, the fluidity of home, and the pressures and resistance of women in a patriarchal landscape without ever losing humor, engagement, and a quiet elegance and tenderness. They move with assurance through ideas, themes, and landscapes revealing what is new within what might have been expected. A very strong debut."
– Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and The Face, Cartography of the Void
“This is a wild, startling collection about loss, migration, colonization, and constantly shifting identities. What does it mean to be an outsider, and where does our power really lie? For the characters in Love Songs for a Lost Continent, living and loving in the margins is as precarious as a tightrope walk.”
– Chaitali Sen, author of The Pathless Sky
“Love Songs for a Lost Continent defies expectation. You’ll think you’re being led into a narrative that’s comfortably familiar, but instead will find work that pushes boundaries, redefines freedoms both personal and artistic. Like her character Vikrant, the elephant polo star, Anita Felicelli will hook her arm into yours and run with you through an India, an America, a history and future that ring with truth and radical growth.”
– Shanthi Sekaran, author of Lucky Boy and The Prayer Room
In Felicelli's (Sparks Off You, 2012, etc.) short story collection, Tamil-Americans struggle to find themselves in a world that persistently marginalizes them.
In the title tale, an unnamed San Franciscan narrator returns to Chennai, his birthplace, to research the legend of the lost continent of Kumari Kandam. It's a decision that impresses neither his father in the States nor his girlfriend Komakal's parents in Tamil Nadu. Like the narrator, other characters in these poignant stories deal with questions of identity. Young Hagar of "Everywhere, Signs," is attending a Pittsburgh school, where, soon after the 9/11 attacks, her fellow students brand her a terrorist—simply because she's a person of color. In "Elephants in the Pink City," Kai Sarma's traditional parents won't let him date whom he wishes after he comes out as gay; and Susannah, an Indian, is shunned by white and Tamil Brahmin classmates in "The Logic of Someday." Felicelli typically steeps her tales in metaphors, resulting in audacious approaches to such issues as racism and sexism. For example, in the opening story, "Deception," Sita is in an arranged marriage to a Bengal tiger. When the big cat dies from poisoning, Sita becomes a murder suspect; local villagers ignore the fact that her husband, a literal beast, had been abusing her. Many other stories take dark turns, including deaths of loved ones and fractured relationships. The brightness of Felicelli's prose, however, provides a beautiful contrast: "She kept her good eye closed against the fluorescent hospital lights," she writes in "Snow," "trying to forget the humiliating sound of the cocktail glass smashing, the shower of glass splinters." Although each of the 13 stories here can stand on its own, characters do recur in multiple tales. Kai and his sister, Hema, for instance, both appear in "Elephants in the Pink City" and the later "Hema and Kathy," and Susannah crops up in "Snow" and "The Art of Losing," which centers on her former boyfriend's mother, Maisie.
Somber but undeniably affecting and profound tales.