She's the new-age desi girl. Tanuja Desai Hidier's first novel Born Confused - the first-ever South Asian American coming-of-age story - was a Larry King pick of the week. Not only that, her book got translated into Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Italian, and German. And now, she's turning it into a movie. Meet the desilicious writer and musician.
A creatve highTanuja also wanted to tell her desi story to the world in her short stories - Desilicious anthology. "I’ve been writing for a long time. I started writing poems when I was six and kept on for years after. When I was 10 and then 11, I wrote two mystery books, around 100 pages each. Born Confused was my way of writing about how positive it is to have desi heroes and heroines from the diaspora. I wanted to shape a period of cultural confusion and cultural exhilaration. I wanted to find out - What does it mean to be Indian? To be South Asian? To be American? And at the heart of that: To be yourself? I also wanted to redefine the C in ABCD - the term 'American Born Confused Desi' - because there certainly are people who are unsure about their cultural identity."
Pop divaHer short film, The Test (which she wrote and directed), deals with many of the same cultural assimilation issues as her fiction. The Test has screened at the Tribeca Film Center and as part of the 19th Asian American International Film Festival, as well as at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and as part of Toronto's Desh Pardesh festival.
"I'm a creative dreamer. My icons are Michael Ondaatje, Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Siri Hustevdt, Graham Greene, Dickens, Enid Blyton, Edwidge Danticat, Marcel Pagnol, Cormac McCarthy, Marquez, Julia Alvarez, Pablo Neruda. I admire No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Blondie, Sheryl Crow, U2, Liz Phair, Hole, Sparklehorse, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. All my icons made me believe dreams can come true."
Musical soulHer music keeps her on the go. "The London-based melodic rock band I’m singing/writing in is currently working on a set of original songs based on the novel - songs to a psychic soundtrack." But it's the thing for `desi' that keeps her on the go. "We're having a 'desi pride’ movement. That's why I've developed my book into a play and film."
Tanuja loves living in London. "My family and friends make me really happy. They help me seek peace through creativity."