Winner of the American Book Award
ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Medal
Independent Book Publisher’s Award
Asian/Pacific American Literature Award
Association for Asian American Studies Book Award
You Have Given Me A Country
You Have Given Me A Country is a mixed-genre exploration of blurred borders, identity, and what it means to be bicultural. Combining memoir, history, and fiction, the book follows the paths of the author’s Irish-Catholic mother and Sindhi-Indian father on their journey towards each other and the biracial child they create.
Vaswani’s second full-length work thematically echoes such books as The Color of Water, Running in the Family, or Motiba’s Tattoos, but is entirely unique in approach, voice, and story, The book reveals the self as a culmination of all that went before it, a new weave of two varied, yet ultimately universal backgrounds that spans continents, generations, languages, wars, and, at the center of it all, family.
Mesmerizing and poetic, You Have Given Me a Country is a vital meditation on the spaces that connect one family and divide it, and on the intimate travels one young woman takes between cultures, continents, emotional landmarks, and historical milestones. Pitch-perfect, this memoir reaffirms Vaswani as an international author of distinctive voice and undeniable importance. —Chandra Prasad, editor of Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience
“Hope, humor and an indomitable spirit fill these pages, and by book’s end, three heroes have emerged: Vaswani’s parents, who defied the cultural, religious and societal norms of their time and instilled in Vaswani a love and appreciation of story; and Vaswani herself, brave enough to ‘pledge allegiance to the in-between.’” —the Courier-Journal
“The lyrical prose style of the book is a love poem to her family. Though Vaswani’s story is steeped in difference, it also embraces the similarities shared with those around her. This book is part history, part memoir, and part social commentary. At the heart of all its pieces is the story of family, and how love can hold it together in the face of obstacles.” —ForeWord
“A novelist’s eye…an essayist’s expansive directness…a memoirist’s ear….Vaswani’s heritage includes multiple strands of heartbreak; at the center stand her parents, practical and humorous, dedicated to her and the life they made together, with their radical marriage as its beginning…What I loved about Vaswani’s book, in addition to the strength of her prose and the beauty of her descriptions, was that it didn’t fit a pattern or confine itself to one kind of form…the book as a whole exemplified a devotion to story as a way of creating a world and giving oneself a firm place to stand.” —tk reviews
“By deliberately framing her story as a ‘mixed-genre memoir’ (which is to say a lived history, but one that refuses to claim perfect allegiance to fact), Vaswani makes a contribution to the contemporary debate about trauma, memory, and narrative…. Vaswani’s prose is spare and vivid and her characters richly human. In this series of carefully chosen, effortlessly linked memories, she tells the histories, the romances, and the tragedies of her own family’s dance with diaspora, exile, homeland, immigration, identity, and dignity.” —Elevate Difference
“Identity, for Vaswani, is a constant metaphor, in which gender, race, religion, sexuality – in short, all of diversity – never arrive but instead remains in motion, and it is only in this motion that identities come into focus…Vaswani turns to beauty and love as the powers that transcend category. It’s this idea of juxtapositions sewn together with histories and experiences that challenge the limitations of language and identity to which we’re all intrinsically tied. It’s this that holds this beautiful account of personal identity together, too.” —MAKE (Chicago)
“Neela Vaswani’s memoir You Have Given Me a Country is a powerful, socially relevant book about the personal search for identity as a biracial person. Beautifully written, the book shares Vaswani’s personal history as well as her parents’ with a keen eye for detail and poetic elegance.”—largeheartedboy.com
“In the academic realm where often the head is foremost and heart and soul are lacking, Neela brings both and lots of both—heart and soul. Her prose has the richness of poetry.” —Write With Your Spine