West Virginia Native Author Shares Excerpts from Newly Released Book

Sarah Davis, Staff Reporter

A West Virginian author talked about growing up while facing adversity and
how, despite our differences, we all can find love.

The Birke Fine Arts Symposium, College of Liberal Arts and English Department sponsored a reading of “Another Appalachia: Growing up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place.”

Author Neema Avashia grew up in Cross Lanes, West Virginia as the daughter of Indian immigrants. Avashia currently works as an educator and activist in Boston, Massachusetts.

The book was published in March 2022 and shares the experiences of her childhood and how they collide with her world today.

Avashia read two essays from “Another Appalachia” to the students in attendance. First to be read was “City Mouse/Country Mouse,” the story of Avashia and her partner, Laura. The essay describes two people from differing backgrounds who, despite their differences, share the interest of love. Avashia read from “City Mouse/ Country Mouse” saying:

“Our communication styles may be different; our paces might not always match, but our understanding of what it means to love, it would seem, is the same.”

Avashia also read from “Our Armor,”which explored the cultural disparities and racism she experienced growing up, and how those disparities changed drastically following the attacks on 9/11. Avashia read from “Our Armor” saying:

“I want, in those moments, to assert my American-ness. My West Virginian- ness. To pull out the birth certificate detailing my birth at Thomas Hospital in Charleston, West Virginia, in the heart of the Kanawha valley. That muddy river valley, those green mountains, those smoking chemical stacks— they are where I come from.”

After the live reading, Avashia took questions from the audience. When asked about her writing process, Avashia described herself as a “chronic reviser.”

“For me, revision is where I can get into reflection,” she said.

Avashia was also asked how long it took her to write “Another Appalachia,” and she responded saying, “I think it took me 43 years to write this book,” meaning
her lifetime. “I hope it doesn’t take another 43 to write the next one, but, if it does, it does, and I’ll be okay with that,” she said.

Marshall will welcome Avashia back to campus on Thursday, Apr. 13 for an in- person reading, which will take place in the Shawkey Dining Room.