BORDER LESS, a novel by Namrata Poddar
Dia Mittal is an airline call center agent in Mumbai searching for a new life. When her search takes her to America, Dia’s journey into selfhood foregrounds the experiences and perspectives of a transnational brown community of South Asian descent across the class spectrum.
As the book follows Dia’s migration via call center agents, travel agents, immigrant maids, fashion designers, blue- and white-collar workers in the hospitality industry, junior and senior artists in Bollywood, hustling single mothers, academics, tourists in the Third World, and refugees displaced by military superpowers, among others, they negotiate different life roles and power struggles that are mediated by race, class, gender, nationality, age, and place.
In the novel’s staccato, fragmented form, full of wordplay, Border Less questions the “mainstream” Western novel and its assumptions of good storytelling.
Border Less was a finalist for The Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether First Book Prize. Chapters from the novel won the Short Story Contest organized by 14th International Conference on the Short Story in English, judged by Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise; the New Asian Writing Prize; and appeared in The Best Asian Short Stories anthology. The opening chapter, in a slightly different form, was published in The Kenyon Review.
Advance Praise for BORDER LESS
“Border Less challenges the traditional form and aesthetic of the western novel with a narrative of interconnected stories as layered as the human experience itself. Each of the novel’s carefully drawn chapters explores questions of belonging and identity, complicated by geographic, racial, gender and class distinctions, to name a few. Poddar is an ambitious and important new voice in the tapestry of global literature.”
— Aline Ohanesian, author of Orhan’s Inheritance, Finalist for The Dayton Literary Peace Prize:
“Border Less is a novel that invites the reader into the twists, turns, and corkscrews of immigrant life. From call centers in India to affluent eateries in Orange County, CA, these characters are irreverent, sometimes raunchy, anxiety-ridden, but most of all, explorative. Poddar has a sensitive touch to moving between time, space, and generations to present a continuous portrait of adventures and hardships in a racialized, Brown body.”
— Morgan Jerkins, New York Times Bestselling Author of This Will Be My Undoing, Wandering in Strange Lands, and Caul Baby
“Border Less is a serious transnational, feminist and a postcolonial novel. It is a deeply moving narrative of a migrant’s journey from Mumbai to Southern California and her displacements over multiple spaces and her moments of self-discovery. This is a novel that finally gives voice to the complexity of being brown and a woman juggling the intersections of class, race, gender, nationality and place.”
–– Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, Edith Green Distinguished Professor of English, Linfield College, and Author of The Postcolonial Citizen
“Namrata Poddar delves with heart-breaking delicacy and precision into the solitary struggles of her characters, whether in the teeming, sweat-drenched Mumbai metropolis or on sunny Californian shores: through the tiny, yet deep epiphanies that close each chapter of their lives, she shows us how every woman is borderless, with minds reaching out well beyond their shores and bodies enclosed within rigid confines. We are all migrants as soon as we are born, reflects one of her characters. But women are even more so as they try to hold on to their center, to their core, while being pulled in different directions by the dictates of family, society, lovers, husbands, children. Until one day—one hopes—the ferociously unique kundalini awakens and takes her due.”
— Ananda Devi, Author of Eve Out of Her Ruins