If you loved Monsoon Summer and Tiger Boy, you'll be happy to know that Mitali Perkins' new YA novel, You Bring the Distant Near , looks and sounds just as amazing as her other books. I've got a cover reveal and some insight into Perkins' inspiration for the novel below, so keep reading to find out more.
Perkins' new YA novel isn't just an exploration of family, but a tracing of its transformation as it crosses oceans and borderlines. You Bring the Distant Near captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart. Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, this elegant YA novel explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture — for better or worse.
In You Bring the Distant Near, you'll meet a grandmother worried that her children are assimilating too much into U.S. culture, a daughter engaged in a forbidden interracial relationship, and a granddaughter fighting to save Bengali tigers. It's a refreshing alternative to the dystopian high fantasy slushpile: the kind of family saga that creates literary hits for adult readers, but is all too rare in works for children and teens.
Check out the cover for Mitali Perkins' new YA novel, You Bring the Distant Near, below, and read what the author has to say about writing the book.
From Mitali Perkins: "I’m terrible at titles. I’d tentatively called this work-in-progress “Borderlines,” as it’s the story of one Bengali-American family crossing borders of love, faith, and cultures. The novel focuses not on huge milestones of change, but instead on smaller moments that reveal the family’s gradual transformation. What title could begin to encapsulate that balance? We brainstormed for weeks, with e-mails flying back and forth, but we kept coming up short.
Woven throughout the book is the importance of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry in Bengali culture. As my editor, Grace Kendall, was working on the book, she started devouring Tagore. “I can't believe I've never read his work,” she told me. “It's brilliant. What do you think about calling the novel ‘You Bring the Distant Near’?”
I was flabbergasted. Of all the thousands of Tagore poems in existence, Grace had chosen the one that resonated most in my memory. Those words come from a poem that my sister recited both in Bangla and in English during my wedding ceremony. Rob, my then-fiancé, had spent a year in Kolkata getting to know my extended family, which included my dear grandfather, Dadu. At the end of the year, Dadu gave our intercultural marriage his blessing by translating this very poem — about loving the foreigner — into English.
Elizabeth H. Clark’s vibrant cover design—with a strong Bengali-African-American young woman lifting her hands in dancing praise, and the skyline of New York silhouetted in her heart—is more than I could have asked for or imagined. My family, like the one in this novel, will forever be grateful that at her best, America does indeed bring the distant near. May she always continue to do so."
Images: Jeff Singer