Ep. 87 2/5/19 Devi Laskar

Our inaugural 2019 episode of It’s Lit showcases the fiction of returning feature Devi Laskar (from 1/8/17)! We’re so stoked to be recording this feature on Feb 4, 2019, the day before Devi’s debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, launches! On this episode, Devi is reading excerpts from this powerful and important novel and pairing music to go with her work. Enjoy!


Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois and a BA in journalism and English from the UNC-CH. A former newspaper reporter (including the Honolulu Star-Bulletin), she is now a poet, photographer and artist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from such journals Rattle, Tin House and Crab Orchard Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA, among others. In 2017, Finishing Line Press published two poetry chapbooks. Counterpoint Press will publish her debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, on February 5, 2019. She now lives in California. You can find Devi on Twitter and Instagram @devislaskar.


From Counterpoint Press:

When a woman—known only as Mother—moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer—Here—is never enough.

Mother’s simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home.

     The Atlas of Reds and Blues grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today’s America. Drawing inspiration from the author’s own terrifying experience of a raid on her home, Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel explores, in exquisite, lyrical prose, an alternate reality that might have been.

     “Devi S. Laskar’s The Atlas of Reds and Blues is as narratively beautiful as it is brutal. In prose that moves between cushioning characters’ falls and ushering our understandings of characters’ utopias, Laskar creates a world where the consequences of American terror never stop reverberating. I’ve never read a novel that does nearly as much in so few pages. Laskar has changed how we will all write about state-sanctioned terror in this nation.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

     “The entire novel takes place over the course of a single morning, as Mother lies waiting for help, and the effect is devastatingly potent.” —Marie Claire


  1. INTRO: Dizzy Gillespie “Manteca” (Funky Lowlives Remix)
  2. Reading from The Atlas of Reds and Blues, pages 79-80 (a section about grandparents superstitions on shoes and butterflies)
  3. Willie Bobo “Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries” (Dan the Automator remix)

  4. Reading from The Atlas of Reds and Blues, page 132 (prisoners of technology)
  5. 2Cellos “Welcome to the Jungle”
  6. Reading from The Atlas of Reds and Blues, page 172 (butterfly house)
  7. US3 “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)”

  8. OUTRO: Andrew York, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet “Djembe”


Why Lit?
I feel like I have to write. It’s not just a hobby, it’s something that i think about all of the time. I’m always living two lives, the one before me and the characters’ lives that I’m creating. while I love photography and I take photographs every day, I identify as a poet. yes, i’m one of those people.
If you could travel back in time to visit your younger writer self, what would you say and why?
That’s a good question: I would go back to my 20 year old self, the one who was very sad when her undergrad writing class dismissed her fledgling work and told her to quit. I’d tell her to roll with the punches a bit more, and not to listen to those people — and to keep writing. Because of that class I stopped writing for three years, and I really regret that now. Writing is hard, and the best way to create a practice of writing is to keep going, every day, no matter, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s the only way to improve, by continuing the work.




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