Born in Calcutta, India; naturalized U.S. citizen. Ethnicity: "Bengali/Indian." Education:Syracuse University, M.A., 1992.
Writer and editor. Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, assistant professor, 1993-96; Trinity College, Hartford, CT, writer in residence, 1996-2000;Catamaran: South Asian American Writing, Grafton, MA, chief executive editor, 2000—.
Fiction Honor Award, Massachusetts Center for the Book, 2004, for Operation Monsoon.
Flute (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 1989.
Beloved Mother, Queen of the Night (short stories), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1993.
Operation Monsoon (short stories), Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A novel and a collection of short stories, completion expected c. 2007.
Shona Ramaya told CA: "In the context of the discipline and the works of other South Asian writers, the issues in my work are not clashes, but mergings; they are not about moral choices, but about understandings and transformations. Currently there are three categories of literature/fiction by South Asian writers: fiction that promotes the exotic appeal of India (Chitra Divakaruni, Gita Mehta, Vikram Seth); fiction that deals with ethnicity in this country—immigrant experience (Jhumpa Lahiri, Bharati Mukherjee, Anita Desai); and fiction by writers who are recording experience in India, either as memoirs (Abraham Verghese) or as loosely disguised autobiographies (Bapsi Sidhwa, Rohinton Mistry, Manil Suri, Shashi Tharoor).
"The exotic appeal comes in various forms: a presentation of a clash of cultures via relationships in stories, woman as victim, wretched lives of poverty and squalor, colonial domination of one set of people by another, or destruction of a natural agrarian society by an evil industrial one. Most of the current Indian writing deals with a clash of cultures, either in America (in the lives of immigrants) or in India, between the old and the new, often with a sense of feeling lost, trapped, and confused.
"My work goes beyond these images of rejection and separation. I would put my work in a different category, breaking away from these trends and examining or exploring life in a transnational space. My work is about South Asians who are a floating population, traveling constantly back and forth between the home country and America, or doing business over the Internet. Addresses are not relevant any more. Internet space serves as personal address and ‘dotcom’ as identity. In contrast to the above three categories, my work (past and present) does not simply present exotic terrains; it engages with and analyzes the problematic nature of the exotic. It also, as stated earlier, presents mergings instead of clashes, in a culture that has remained the same while being perpetuated more aggressively by the coming together of the old and the new.
"Set on the border between modernity and tradition, where personal freedoms and cultural identity are at stake, my fiction is about the mergings of culture. As a result of the new technologies and the global market, a new breed has emerged from a third world that the west doesn't recognize any more. The stories (inOperation Monsoon) depict a world of paradox and parody, complex interactions between characters, situations, beliefs, and experiences past and present, exploring junctures where history or myth crosses paths with contemporary events. Pop culture and history fuse. The Characters are in constant play as they negotiate political and personal boundaries. They flow with osmotic ease into a technologically heightened world in an India in flux. Their local troubles unfold on a global plane; their experiences span continents."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Operation Monsoon, p. 61.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2003, review of Operation Monsoon, p. 988.
Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Shirley N. Quan, review of Operation Monsoon, p. 213.
Catamaran: South Asian American Writing,http://www.catamaranmagazine.com/ (July 28, 2005).
Shona Ramaya Home Page,http://webpages.charter.net/shonaramaya (July 28, 2005).