Oxford Conference for the Book Prologue: Sheila Sundar in conversation with Melissa Ginsburg for Habitations

(Melissa Ginsburg, photo credit: Tenola Plaxico)

A young academic moves from India to the United States, where she navigates first love, a green card marriage, single motherhood, and more in this “delightful novel, written with immediacy, warmth, and wry humor” (Ha Jin, National Book Award-winning author of Waiting).

Join Square Books in celebrating the release of author and friend Sheila Sundar's debut novel HabitationsThe event will take place Tuesday, April 2, at 6PM at Off Square Books. Sundar will be in conversation with local poet Melissa Ginsburg.

Oxford Conference for the Book is an open-to-the public annual gathering that brings together teachers, publishers, booksellers, writers, scholars, agents, editors, and booklovers. Click here to see the entire schedule.

Can't make it? Reserve a signed first edition here. Personalization available. Can't make it? Tune in virtually via Facebook Live.

About Habitations

Vega Gopalan is adrift. Still reeling from the death of her sister years earlier, she leaves South India to attend graduate school at Columbia University. In New York, Vega straddles many different worlds, eventually moving in and out of a series of relationships that take her through the striving world of academia, the intellectual isolation of the immigrant suburbs, and, ultimately, the loneliness of single motherhood. But it is the birth of Vega’s daughter that forces the novel’s central question: What does it mean to make a home?

Written with dry humor and searing insight, Habitations is an intimate story of identity, immigration, expectation and desire, and of love lost and found. But it is also a universal story of womanhood, and the ways in which women are forced to navigate multiple loyalties: to family, to community, and to themselves.

A profound meditation on the many meanings of home and on the ways love and kinship can be found, even in the most unfamiliar of places, Habitations introduces Sheila Sundar as an electrifying new voice in literary fiction.

About the Author

Sheila Sundar is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Mississippi. Her writing has appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Massachusetts ReviewThe Threepenny Review, and elsewhereShe lives in New Orleans with her husband and their three children. Habitations is her debut novel.

About the Conversation Partner

Melissa Ginsburg is the author of the poetry collections Doll Apollo (winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award) and Dear Weather Ghost, the novels The House Uptown and Sunset City, and three poetry chapbooks: Arbor, Double Blind, and Apollo. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Image, Guernica, Kenyon Review, Fence, Southwest Review, and other magazines. Originally from Houston, Texas, Melissa studied poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Mississippi, and serves as Associate Editor of Tupelo Quarterly. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Praise for Habitations

“Sheila Sundar’s irresistible debut is a provocative meditation on grief, desire, and the unexpected ways the two entangle. Brimming with emotional intricacies, crisp prose, and sly humor, HABITATIONS traverses the complicated, intimate politics and promises of the places we seek to call “home.’”—DEESHA PHILYAW, author of National Book Award Finalist The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Habitations is a delightful novel, written with immediacy, warmth, and wry humor. Covering dramas both personal and universal, Sundar offers insightful reflections on the desire for arrival and the longing for return. This is a significant addition to migrant fiction.”—HA JIN, author of National Book Award winner Waiting

“A striking reflection on migration, family, loss and home, and a vital portrait of race in American academia. Through sharp, up-close narration, we share Vega Gopalan's piercing observations about the world that surrounds her, and the friends, loves, and city-dwelling strangers that come to shape her life as she tries to find her place in it.”—MECCA JAMILAH SULLIVAN, author of Big Girl

“Masterful storytelling.  A sweeping, immersive and utterly perfect debut of a new talent and a fresh perspective on the Indian diaspora.  In its multilayered, nuanced way, this novel will teach you about the strength of family, the force of love, the power of hope and the resilience of spirit. In other words, HABITATIONS will take you fearlessly by the hand and remind you of the purpose of living.”—WEIKE WANG, author of Chemistry and Joan is Okay

Staff Pick Badge
Habitations: A Novel By Sheila Sundar Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668016107
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 2nd, 2024

A young academic moves from India to the United States, where she navigates first love, a green card marriage, single motherhood, and more in this “delightful novel, written with immediacy, warmth, and wry humor” (Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting).

Vega Gopalan is adrift.

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2024 - 6:00pm
Off Square Books
129 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
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