When Neema Avashia tells people where she’s from, their response is nearly always a disbelieving: “There are Indian people in West Virginia?” A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia fits few Appalachian stereotypes. But the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality continue to inform the way she moves through the world today: how she loves, how she teaches, how she advocates, how she struggles.
Neema Avashia was born and raised in southern West Virginia to parents who immigrated to the United States. She has been a middle school teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003. Her essays have appeared in the Bitter Southerner, Catapult, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. Her memoir, Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, was published by West Virginia University Press in 2022.
Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture, and more, Another Appalachia mixes nostalgia and humor, sadness and sweetness, personal reflection and universal questions.
Find out more on Neema Avashia website.
Disclaimer: The personal views of any author attending the Book Festival are neither condoned nor supported by festival organizers or by the Kanawha County Public Library. Authors are selected based on their published work and not their personal opinions.