Highlighted writing projects
I’m working on a new full-length novel. The story focuses on a girl from an immigrant Guyanese family who is struggling with the murder of her sister and, at the same time, building an unlikely friendship with an older woman who grew up in an orphanage and became estranged from her own sister. It’s a boundary-crossing story that reflects elements of diasporic Caribbean literature as well as historical Canadian literary fiction.
My novel is partially inspired by real-life events at the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (you can read about it in this 2012 Maclean’s Magazine article). Various first-hand written and verbal accounts of abuse and neglect were shared with me by a friend who lived in orphanage in the 1940s. He helped drive a class action suit with other former residents, which led to a historic apology from the Province of Nova Scotia as well as an public inquiry. My friend also helped me conduct contextual research on the Home’s founding vision to support vulnerable children in Black communities, who were generally rejected by mainstream residential institutions that housed white children. The manuscript reflects this history as a complex interplay of the consequences of discrimination, poverty and systemic racism in the lives and relationships of young people, as well as their ultimate resilience in survival.
If you are interested in updates on the progress of this book, please join my eNewsletter list (type your email into the blue box at the top right of the page).
“Model Citizens, in Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity (Chapter, 2016)
I have written a chapter in Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity, edited by John Lorinc and Jay Pitter and published by Coach House Books (2016). Entitled “Model Citizens”, the chapter explores who tends to be “in and out” in urban civic engagement and leadership. “Using Toronto as a case study, Subdivided asks how cities would function if decision-makers genuinely accounted for race, ethnicity, and class when confronting issues such as housing, policing, labor markets, and public space. With essays contributed by an array of city-builders, it proposes solutions for fully inclusive communities that respond to the complexities of a global city” (Copyright Coach House Books, 2016).
The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha (Novel, 2009)
“Andrea Gunraj makes an extremely confident and accomplished debut with her sweeping novel of love, rivalry, family, corruption, magic and friendship. This is the start of a dazzling career. This incredible story begins in the first minutes following a mother’s discovery that her three-year-old daughter has been abducted. These early pages launch us into the mother’s story. Headstrong, defiant, and troubled, Neela navigates a bitter relationship with her genius brother, Navi, and her grandmother, and eventually escapes her stultifying village with the bad seed of the town to a new resort development in the heart of the Caribbean country’s rainforest. Jaroon soon comes to embody the corruption that festers in this alienating place. When Neela, now the young mother of Jaroon’s child, grows afraid of his unpredictable brutality and leaves him, she sets into motion a terrifying chain of events that changes all those who know them” (Copyright Random House of Canada Limited, 2006). This book was published by Knopf Canada.
“Andrea Gunraj’s debut novel, The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha, is wonderfully accomplished. It is a riveting, often violent tale of the lives of girls who grow to be women in a fictional, politically corrupt Guyana … This is certainly a novel to relish, and I’m sure — I hope — we will see much more of Gunraj in the future.” (Michelle Berry, Globe and Mail, February 24, 2009)
“Andrea Gunraj has written a sparkling first novel … a riveting, expertly told tale full of satisfying counterbalances and impeccable narrative timing. This is an exciting, memorable debut.” (Emily Donaldson, starred review in Quill & Quire, March 2009)
“In this impressive Canadian debut, a young Guyanese woman steps out from under the shadow of her brother by running off with the local bad boy. Gunraj isn’t afraid of dark subjects – jealousy, violence, regret – but she keeps a grip on her optimism, too.” (Danielle Groen, Chatelaine, April 2009)
“Just a few paragraphs into The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha, the debut novel by Andrea Gunraj, are enough to captivate and transfix the imagination of a reader.” (Noor Javed, Desi Life, June 9, 2009)
And if my [interpretation of the book] doesn’t quite cut it for you, well, this rich text provides plenty of material from which to form an alternate theory.” (Niranjana Iyer, Herizons, Summer 2010)
“Andrea Gunraj’s debut novel is a tale of innocence and experience … Gunraj’s true facility as a storyteller [is] her ability to humanize the freak as well as the villain.” (Tobias Atkin, The Rover, May 23, 2009)
“As Neela hurtles from one crisis to another, her special power waxing and waning, you find yourself anxious to find out if she, too, will pass her power on to her daughter Seetha.” (Bookworm section, Desi News, September 2009)
“I will say right off that I loved this book! … Once I picked up this novel I could not put it down.” (Dar, Peeking Between the Pages, March 10, 2009)
“The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha announces the arrival of a wonderful storyteller. The dynamics of the relationship between Navi and Neela, a brother and a sister, and how their individual lives play out show that fate is unalterable depending on one’s social standing in life. Andrea Gunraj has written a book that once you pick up, you won’t be able to put down – a thrilling and excellent read.” (Musharraf Ali Farooqi, author of The Story of a Widow)
Power to the People: Anti-Oppressive Game Design (Chapter, 2011)
Read it on METRAC Action on Violence’s website
Co-authored with Susana Ruiz and Ashley York (University of Southern California and Take Action Games), with contributions from Mary Flanagan, Barry Joseph, Wendy Komiotis and Paolo Pedercini. Published in Designing Games for Ethics: Models, Techniques and Frameworks (edited by Karen Schrier, Columbia University and David Gibson, University of Vermont; IGI Global).
Abstract: “In this chapter, we define basic principles of the anti-oppressive framework and its ethical implications. We position these principles in the realm of game creation and argue for its use — particularly in the development of social issue games that in one way or another seek to spotlight and challenge the typical power imbalances in our society. While we outline some essential theory, we take a practice-based perspective to make a case for and support the incorporation of anti-oppressive principles in game design and development. We feature the work of four game collectives from around the world about their strategies for implementing equity in game/interactive design and development. The chapter closes with broad guidelines to support integration of anti-oppression principles in game creation.”