Mohanraj, Mary Anne 1971–
Mohanraj, Mary Anne 1971–
PERSONAL: Born July 26, 1971, in Colombo, Sri Lanka; brought to the United States, c. 1973; daughter of a physician. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1993; Mills College, M.F.A., 1998; University of Utah, Ph.D., 2005. Politics: "A civil libertarian who believes strongly in intellectual freedom." Religion: Secular humanist. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, dancing, singing, medieval art, books.
ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Worked as a secretary in Philadelphia, PA, 1995–97; Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, UT, writing instructor, 1999; Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, currently creative writing teacher. Visiting faculty, Vermont College, 2005, and the University of Utah. Clean Sheets, founding and senior editor, 1998–2000; Strange Horizons (online speculative fiction magazine), founding editor, 2000–03; cofounder, Speculative Literature Foundation, 2004; executive director, DesiLit, 2004–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Scowcroft Prize for Fiction, 2001; Neff fellowship in English, 2001; Steffenson-Canon fellowship in the humanities, 2002; Illinois Arts Council fellowship, 2006.
(Editor, with Dale Larson) Torn Shapes of Desire: Internet Erotica, photographs by Tracy Lee, Intangible Asset Manufacturing (Philadelphia, PA), 1997.
(Editor) Aqua Erotica: Eighteen Stories for a Steamy Bath, Three Rivers Press (Three Rivers, MI), 2000.
(Editor) Wet: More Aqua Erotica, Three Rivers Press (Three Rivers, MI), 2002.
(With Michael A. Hemmingson) The Classics Professor: A Choose-Your-Own-Erotic-Adventure, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Kathryn in the City: A Choose-Your-Own-Erotic-Adventure, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2003.
A Taste of Serendib (cookbook), Lethe Press (Maple Shade, NJ), 2003.
(Editor) The Best of Strange Horizons: Year One, Lethe Press (Maple Shade, NJ), 2003.
Silence and the Word, Lethe Press (Maple Shade, NJ), 2004.
Bodies in Motion (short stories), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
The Arrangement (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Also contributor to anthologies, including Full Circle Series 14, Guild Press, 1993; Floating Words, 1996; Sex Magick II, 1997; Hot off the Net, 1998; Sex Toy Tales, 1998; Best America Erotica: 1999, 1999; Herotica 6, 1999; Batteries Not Included, 1999; Sex and Single Girls, 2000; La India, d'ell Anima, 2000; Wicked Words 3, 2000; Guilty Pleasures, 2000; and Best Women's Erotica, 2000. Contributor to periodicals, including Bi Monthly, Anything that Moves, Poetic Knight, Puritan, Original Sin, Aim Magazine, COSAW Bulletin (Committee on South Asian Women), Eidos Magazine, Etranger, SAMAR, Lilac Dawn, MAKAR, Parents and Children Together On-line, Scarlet Letters, Whispers & Shouts, and Sulekha. Consulting editor, Herotica 7, Down There Press (San Francisco, CA), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: When asked what it is she writes, Mary Anne Mohanraj is hesitant to classify herself. On her personal Web site, she responded: "Unlike most writers who seem to stick to one field, I've wandered all over the place. I wrote mostly poetry for a couple of years, then started writing erotic stories for the net, then started to think about going professional." In addition to writing, Mohanraj has founded and moderates the Internet Erotica Writers' Workshop, served as a moderator for the Usenet newsgroup soc.sexuality.general, and edited several online magazines. Al Hazard observed in Penthouse that Mohanraj "writes clear, well-built, and finely finished short fiction and poetry—and what she writes is often filled with highly charged sexual romanticism." Hazard further commented: "Mohanraj's stories project a sense of innocence and wonder about sexuality. Many are about betrayal and repression and even violence; they all have a vibrancy, a positive aura of health and strength about them."
"When first asked to do this anthology, it sounded like great fun—reading erotic stories with a watery element, selecting the best to create a book that you could enjoy in the tub, at the beach—while immersed in water yourself," wrote Mohanraj in her introduction to Aqua Erotica: Eighteen Stories for a Steamy Bath. A Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked: "It would have to be a very steamy bath indeed to match the temperature of the best stories collected here."The reviewer added that the anthology is "extremely well crafted." The book was constructed with a plastic cover and pages and billed as "the first waterproof book for adults."
In her interconnected short-story collection Bodies in Motion, Mohanraj entwines the stories of two Sri Lankan families over five decades and four generations as their lives are bound together by love, marriage, and affairs. "Characters buck against the tradition of arranged marriage, desiring more than their assigned societal roles," reported a Publishers Weekly contributor. Deborah Donovan, writing in Booklist, noted that the characters "all come alive in these thoughtful stories of the clash of tradition and modernity, and the search for love." In a review in World Literature Today, Michelle Reale commented: "While almost all the stories are of a sexual nature, they are less about sex than what people strive to experience: a connection to themselves and authenticity of experience." Library Journal contributor Debbie Bogenschutz similarly asserted that "Mohanraj offers readers great insights into her characters." Mohanraj's novel The Arrangement involves a love triangle featuring characters from Bodies in Motion.
On her Web site, Mohanraj observed of her own erotic fiction: "I write these stories as part of my own private attempt to change the world. I write stories with strong consenting women, to remind people that strong women are sexy and that consent is crucial. I write stories with queer characters, to spread a little awareness. I write stories dealing with taboo subjects such as incest." Mohanraj went on to note: "Mainly, I try to write stories with real people—people who love and hate and sometimes even have sex for the wrong reasons and who have lives beyond the immediate sex act. And occasionally I write a little fluffy fantasy because life isn't all politics either."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Mohanraj, Mary Anne, editor, Aqua Erotica: Eighteen Stories for a Steamy Bath, Three Rivers Press (Three Rivers, MI), 2000.
Booklist, May 1, 2005, Deborah Donovan, review of Bodies in Motion, p. 1571.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2000, review of Aqua Erotica, p. 919; April 1, 2005, review of Bodies in Motion, p. 379.
Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of Bodies in Motion, p. 63.
New York Times, August 14, 2005, Ada Calhoun, review of Bodies in Motion.
Penthouse, June, 1996, Al Hazard, interview with Mary Anne Mohanraj.
Poetechniciens, August, 1996, Brent E. Edwards, "Interview with M.A. Mohanraj."
Publishers Weekly, June 6, 2005, review of Bodies in Motion, p. 41.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2005, Kim Hedges, review of Bodies in Motion, p. F5.
Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), September 27, 1998, Afdhel Aziz, interview with Mary Anne Mohanraj.
World Literature Today, July-August, 2006, Michelle Reale, review of Bodies in Motion, p. 68.
Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/ (April 4, 2002), "Amazon.com Talks to Mary Anne Mohanraj."
HarperCollins Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com/ (September 4, 2006), brief biography of Mary Anne Mohanraj.
Mary Anne Mohanraj Home Page, http://www.mamohanraj.com (September 4, 2006).
Sawnet, http://www.sawnet.org/ (September 4, 2006), Deepa Menon, review of Bodies in Motion; brief biography of Mary Anne Mohanraj.
SF Gate, http://sfgate.com/ (August 11, 2005), Sandip Roy, "ASIAN POP Sexing Sri Lanka: How a Tamil Immigrant Girl Grew Up to Become an Erotica Queen and New Voice in South Asian Literature."
SFReader.com, http://www.sfreader.com/ (September 4, 2006), Fraser Ronald, review of Best of Strange Horizons: Year One.
Trikone, http://www.trikone.org/ (April 3, 2002), Minal Hajratwala, "An Interview with Mary Anne Mohanraj."