Tanuja Desai Hidier is a second-generation Indian American whose novelBorn Confused tells a coming-of-age story of a young girl living in suburban New Jersey. The novel has won several awards as well as the attention of many in the Indian-American community.
Desai Hidier was born in Boston and grew up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. "It was a sanctuary of trees and fields and apple orchards and dogs on no leashes and safe trick-or-treating," the author explained in an interview on her Web site. Her parents had come to America from India and settled in Massachusetts. The young Desai Hidier showed an early interest in written expression. "I began writing poems at age six for fun and turned to fiction at 10 or 11," she explained in an interview for the News India Times. "I realized that I could best express myself through writing, so I kept it up." Speaking to Preeti Thandi in an online interview for My Bindi.com, she recounted: "When I was little I dreamed of being a writer--one of the reasons possibly being that I loved to read and the other being that sheer transporting power of putting pen to paper." After attending Brown University, Desai Hidier worked for a time as a freelance journalist, contributing to magazines and Web 'zines in New York City. She also took fiction-writing workshops, wrote short stories, and made videos, including The Test, which won an award from the Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival in 1996. These efforts helped her to clarify the kind of fiction she wanted to write: stories about the experience of second-generation Asians in the United States.
Through a friend, Desai Hidier was scheduled to meet an editor at Scholastic to discuss what she thought was possible copyediting work. The editor thought they were going to discuss her novel. Since she did not have a novel, but knew an opportunity when she saw it, Desai Hidier began discussing an idea she had for a novel. "I said I was interested in doing an Indian-American coming-of-age story," she recalled to the News India Times. "He was immediately very excited about the idea and said that was a book he'd never seen and he'd love to help get it onto the bookshelf." It took some five months to put together an outline and sample chapters, then another four months to finish writing the nearly three-hundred-page novel.