New York University professor Vasu Varadhan’s memoir is an inspiring story of an immigrant’s struggle to forge an identity of her own amidst the upheavals of geographical and cultural displacement. On My Own Terms is also an uplifting testament to a remarkable woman’s struggle to maintain individuality, integrity and freedom as an accomplished scholar inside the orthodox Hindu culture in which she was born and raised.
Vasu Varadhan (Photo: S.R.S. Varadhan)
In moments of quiet despair following the death of her eldest son in the September 11 attack on The World Trade Center, Vasu Varadhan thought of her mother and father, a United Nations diplomat and champion of nuclear disarmament during the Cold War who died at the early age of 50; her childhood in New York City and young adulthood in India, and her arranged marriage at the age of 16. Circling back into personal family history led to her decision to write this memoir, a search for better understanding of life’s joys and sorrows.
Vasu Varadhan holds a PhD in Media Studies and is currently a faculty member of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She teaches a wide range of interdisciplinary seminars on media theory, identity in a multi-cultural world, ancient Indian literature and South Asian literature with a special focus on emerging Indian writers in the diaspora.
Her husband, S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, is the Jay Gould Professor of Science, Professor of Mathematics, at New York University’s Courant Institute. His many awards include the Abel Prize (2007) and the National Medal of Sciences (2010).
“An elegant memoir that delicately recreates a vanished Indian world while charting the growth of an individual sensibility on the margins of cultures,” says Pankaj Mishra, Indian essayist and novelist, winner of the 2014 Windham–Campbell Prize for non-fiction.
“It is beautifully written and the prose flows with liquid ease. I particularly enjoyed the weaving of personal details and the social milieu that you portray—Sampurna Sastry, National Leather works, the sharp eye of Muslim tailors, Luz Avenue and Nageshwar Rao Park, and societal protocols of the time. Of course, the nuances of the epistolary romance were captured with such finesse—a delight to read,” commented Radha Sarma Hegde Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University.
Title: On My Own Terms
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Trim: 6 x 9
Page Count: 225 pages
Price: $15.95 (paperback); $9.95 (ebook) Buy it here.