Fracis, Sohrab Homi 1958-
FRACIS, Sohrab Homi 1958-
PERSONAL: Born August 19, 1958, in Bombay, India; son of Homi (a civil engineer) and Dinsi Fracis. Ethnicity: "Indian." Education: Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, B.Tech. (civil engineering), 1981; University of Delaware, M.C.E. (civil engineering), 1983; University of North Florida, M.A. (creative writing), 1993. Religion: Parsi (Zoroastrian). Hobbies and other interests: Racket sports, music, movies.
CAREER: University of North Florida, Jacksonville, adjunct instructor of English, 1993-2003; State Street Review, fiction and poetry editor, 1994-2001; Kalliope, proofreader, beginning 1998.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Author's League, North Florida Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: Josiah W. Bancroft First Prize, Florida First Coast Writers Festival, 1992; Second Prize, Katha Indian-American Fiction Contest, 1999, 2000; finalist, Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, University of Georgia Press, 1999; Florida Department of State individual artist fellowship in Literature, 1999-2000; Iowa Short Fiction Award, University of Iowa Press, 2001, for Ticket to Minto; Walter E. Dakin fellowship in fiction, Sewanee Writers' Conference, 2002.
Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Fezana Journal, India Currents, Other Voices, Antigonish Review, Florida Times-Union, State Street Review, Toronto Review of Writing Abroad, and Weber Studies.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A nonfiction book, The Game against Death: Continuity versus Mortality.
SIDELIGHTS: Sohrab Homi Fracis became inspired to begin writing when he realized that there was a lack of Indian-American writers. Deciding to do something about this apparent void, he wrote his first book, Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America, which was honored in 2001 with the University of Iowa's Short Fiction Award.
Throughout its twelve stories, Ticket to Minto analyzes what it means to be simultaneously Indian and American. Fracis discusses the difficulty of dealing with two contrasting value systems, and the push to adopt one set of values or the other; what may be acceptable in Bombay is deemed insufficient by American standards. While some critics took issue with Fracis's use of narrative voice, they also praised the work for providing a thorough examination of "issues of racial identity with sensitivity and veracity," in the words of John Green in Booklist. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that upon delving into Ticket to Minto "readers will recognize these stories as the work of an impressive new talent."
Fracis told CA: "Back when I first began to write, in 1989, there seemed to be a dearth of good fiction about (to put it broadly) the Indian experience—only books by Salman Rushdie were visible, for partly the wrong reasons. I sensed the significance and freshness of my Indian-American exposure/material and wanted to see it represented more fully in literature. So I thought, rather naively, that I could write books to help fill the void myself. As it happened, well before I finally made it into book print in 2001 by winning the Iowa Short Fiction Award, Indian authors such as Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Arandhati Roy, and Thumpa Lahiri had achieved widespread visibility and recognition for the genre. Nevertheless, my primary material as a Parsi (Zoroastrian Indian) in America remains different enough and, I believe, significant enough that it continues to drive me to write.
"Initially, I was (and still am) very taken with the work of internationally famed writers such as Anton Chekhov, Hermann Hesse, Isak Dinesen, and Jack Kerouac. But as my search for stories about characters closer to my own background began to yield results, I was particularly influenced by the work of the Parsi author Rohinton Mistry, as well as by other South Asian writers. And the contemporary American short fiction I was finding in literary anthologies by a multitude of wonderful story writers, such as Jayne Anne Phillips, Junot Diaz, William Henry Lewis, Leonard Michaels, and Lan Samantha Chang was updating and rounding out my literary aesthetics and sensibilities.
"I need a long incubation period for any story/novel idea or nonfiction writing project before I'm ready to being the actual drafting of it. During that time, I may be filling some of the gaps I see in my knowledge of the subject matter, with either on-location or book research. And my mind will be playing with the various directions in which the concept could evolve or the ways in which it could be structured. At some point of critical mass, so to speak, the urgent to give voice to my thoughts exceeds the need to keep thinking about the idea. Then I write. And the writing is that much better (and easier) because of the pre-writing work that I've put into it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Arbus, December 2001-January 2002, Robbi Burgi, "Parsi, Poets, and Prophets" (interview), pp. 49-50.
Booklist, October 15, 2001, John Green, review of Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America, p. 381.
Folio Weekly, November 20, 2001, Tricia Booker, "UNF Professor's Ticket to Minto Is a Fresh Perspective in a Troubled Time" (interview).
Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, FL), June 19, 2002, Charlie Patton, review of Ticket to Minto, p. B1.
Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT), December 9, 2001, Carmela Ciuraru, review of Ticket to Minto.
KirkusReviews, October, 2001, review of Ticket to Minto..
Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2001, review of Ticket to Minto, p. 67.
IndiaCurrents.com, http://www.indiacurrents.com (December, 2001), Michelle Reale, review of Ticket to Minto.
PopMatters.com, http://www.popmatters.com/ (October, 2001), Jeremy Hart, review of Ticket to Minto.