Sita in Exile by Rashi Rohatgi
2022 Novella Prize selected by Misha Rai
Miami University Press, May 2023
When Indian American Sita moves to the Norwegian Arctic, she finds a warm welcome from Mona, a local surfer from a refugee family who sees her as someone with whom she can be herself. But Sita’s not sure how to reciprocate, for as she begins to discover impossible fruits in the forest, she grows more unsure of who she is: a happy wife, when her husband seems impatient with her inability to assimilate? A good mother, when she can’t fathom what her baby wants? A pet-killer, when she was just acting on instinct? A terrible person, for leaving behind her grieving father and her best friend Bhoomija, a brown feminist artist struggling to get by during the pandemic? Or someone even worse, as she finds herself drawn to Mona’s partner, Morten, who owns the only land on which she feels whole? When Bhoomija asks her to return home, Sita must take stock not only of the life she’s made in the far north with Mona, but also of the self she’s held back, lying in wait for forgiveness, and choose which version to make real. Drawing upon Hindu mythology, Sita in Exile is a lyrical exploration of migrant sisterhood and brown motherhood in today’s Europe.