Monday, September 30, 2019

Marina Budhos

Marina Budhos is an author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction. Her novels include Watched, a follow-up to Ask Me No Questions, and takes on surveillance in a post 9/11 era. Set in Queens, NYC, Watched tells the story of Naeem—a teenage boy who thinks he can charm his way through life. One day his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer him a dark deal. Watched received an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature YA Honor (APALA) and is an Honor Book for The Walter Award (We Need Diverse Books).

Budhos's newest novel, The Long Ride, is about three mixed race girls during a 1970s integration struggle.

Recently I asked Budhos about what she was reading. Her reply:
Right now I’m reading Paul Tough’s The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, both because he came to speak at my local bookstore, because I’m also an educator teaching many first-generation college students, and finally as a mother of a high schooler and college student. There is devastating reporting here, and I have to say, it makes me feel like there is a game out there, rigged even for someone like myself—well-educated, trying to give her own children the best. There are so many cultural signals and advantages that prop up the world of success and mobility.

Perhaps in tune with that, I’m also reading The Expectations, a first novel by Alexander Tilney, because I’ll be interviewing him for an event. It takes place at an elite boarding school and explores questions of belonging/not belonging.

And I’m about to crack open Beloved to re-read with my writers group—her sentences, as always, are mesmerizing, pure music with almost oracular power. What I love about Morrison, among many things, is how there is a voice of moral assertion, of reframing how we see things. For me, the ‘hook’ into Morrison began with Sula and how Sula herself simply defies expectations, defies what people will say of her, and defies the category of either tragic or slut or immoral. And the more conventional Nel only realizes that once she passes. To me, this defiance is at the root of Beloved as well—what might seem to be the most heinous of acts—a mother killing her child—is steeped in compassion and higher thinking. I suppose it is a quality we can find in Greek tragedy, but here it’s in these musical sentences of prose and novel-world-building.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

My Book, The Movie: Watched.

The Page 69 Test: Watched.

--Marshal Zeringue