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A Smidge of Wisdom

"A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return."

---Bhagavad Gita

my novels and short story collection

After the Tsunami

- After the Tsunami follows the story of Siddhartha, an older Indian man in the United States who cannot stop reliving his harrowing past in India. As a child, he loses his family to a tsunami and is taken in by a boys' home, run entirely by cruel Mothers who are physically and emotionally abusive. The narrative switches back and forth between Siddhartha's present life and the recalling of the events that took place while he was in the orphanage. Though seemingly successful with a career and a family, Siddhartha struggles with the life he once had and the life he must live now.

The story is told from Siddhartha's point of view, which is raw, unflinching, and often insightful. Siddhartha's reflections on his life are mature and at times astute, as is fitting for a man stripped of his childhood at a young age. At its heart, the novel deals with whether a man exposed to such depravity can learn to love himself and others.

Though alternating chapters describe the traumatic conditions of his confinement, he also narrates, through small vignettes, his life in America with a wife who loves him and children who want to know who their father is. His wife is a painter who accepts Siddhartha's dark past as her muse. His children long to be loved by their father, even if it means tolerating his emotional detachment and occasional physical abuse. It is only when his daughter, engaged to be married to an Indian man, forces Siddhartha to go back to India that he is driven to confront what happened to him and the other boys in the orphanage. The book chronicles his emotional journey and whether or not he does finally escape the confines of his past.

This novel was a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and a Finalist in the Stephen F. Austin State University Press fiction awards. It was subsequently published by them and is now available online and in bookstores.

Dysfunction: Stories

- Dramatically different in style and form, these tales range from the wicked (a divorcee recounts her failed marriages sardonically from A to Z), to heart-wrenchingly commonplace (an older Indian woman struggles to find a husband during humiliating bride-viewings), and emotionally barren (a mother cannot understand why her family doesn't love her enough to remember her son's first birthday). At times funny, but always incisive, this collection of stories examines the survival of those whose only certainty is dysfunction.

This collection was a Finalist in the 2010 Elixir Press Fiction Award, and received Honorable Mention in Leapfrog Press' 2010 Fiction Contest. Published by Aqueous Books in 2012, it is available on Amazon.com and at your local bookstore.

The Goju Story

- What starts off as a violent tale about an Indian woman's battle with sexual abuse from her father becomes a twisted dark comedy about crazy people, talking dolls, and the battle between good and evil. The story takes place in the United States with Goju Duppa, an Indian-American woman in her twenties who must figure out how to escape her brutal home situation without leaving her cleft-palated sister behind. When she meets Pierce, a white eccentric male in his thirties, the possibilities for happiness seem endless, but at what cost?

This is Annam's first novel and is unpublished.