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Drunk On Ink Q and A with Saumya Dave and ‘Well-Behaved Indian Women’, a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Saumya Dave is a writer, psychiatrist, and mental health advocate. Her debut novel, Well-Behaved Indian Women, was released in July 2020 and her sophomore novel What a Happy Family comes out in 2021. Her essays, articles, and poetry have been featured in The New York TimesABC NewsRefinery 29, and more. She is a practicing therapist, co-founder of the mental health nonprofit thisisforHER, and an Adjunct Professor at Mount Sinai. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

About Well Behaved Indian Women

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little “writing hobby.” But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran’s life, she begins to question not only her future as a psychologist, but her engagement to her high school sweetheart.

Nandini Mehta has strived to create an easy life for her children in America. From dealing with her husband’s demanding family to the casual racism of her patients, everything Nandini has endured has been for her children’s sake. It isn’t until an old colleague makes her a life-changing offer that Nandini realizes she’s spent so much time focusing on being the Perfect Indian Woman, she’s let herself slip away.

Mimi Kadakia failed her daughter, Nandini, in ways she’ll never be able to fix­—or forget. But with her granddaughter, she has the chance to be supportive and offer help when it’s needed. As life begins to pull Nandini and Simran apart, Mimi is determined to be the bridge that keeps them connected, even as she carries her own secret burden.


SONIAH KAMAL:  First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

SAUMYA DAVE: Beverly Cleary’s books gave me the mix of comfort and entertainment I needed as a child. I related to the family dynamics, struggles at school, and the feeling of never fitting in she portrayed through her characters. Her work taught me early on that my favorite stories were the ones that helped me feel less alone in the world.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

I’m a new mom, which is another way of me saying I alternate between coffee and wine

 A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

The poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou has gotten me through some of the most difficult moments of my life. I’ve always believed that words have power and memorizing certain ones can provide strength, a type of emotional reserve, for challenging times.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Madame Bovary, which I’m reading now.

Favorite quote from your book

 “For years, we assumed ambition was a curse for us. Men could always wear it like a cape, while women were forced to tuck and hold it inside themselves.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

Gone Girl (watch trailer) It was the first psychological thriller I read in medical school and my husband and I went to the movie’s opening night. It’s one of the few stories where I’ve enjoyed the book to film equally.

 Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Books Are Magic and The Strand in New York; Posman Books and Little Shop of Stories in Georgia.

The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?

To accept rejection as a constant, whether that’s in the form of editorial feedback or negative reviews. I used to be so scared of major edits or the idea of scathing reviews. But I’ve since learned that a story doesn’t fully belong to me once it’s out in the world and that’s a great thing.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I believe that making that transition from writing as a hobby to writing as a job can be tough; however, having a team of people to work with who are passionate about books and being part of a community of writers is invaluable for work that is otherwise so solitary.

Dog, Cat, Or?


 Ideal vacation?

Sitting on a beach with a stack of books, chips, and a giant bowl of salsa

 Favorite book cover?

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. The hair! The colors! All of it!

 Favorite song?

Current answer: my son’s Little Baby Bum nursery rhymes

Favorite painting/ work of art?

Vincent van Gogh’s “Self- Portrait with Bandaged Ear”. I incorporate this painting in the Narrative Medicine class I teach to psychiatry residents and it always leads to a compelling discussion about mental illness, creativity, and solitude.

 Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

I’m hoping to attend a Lit Festival in the post COVID world!

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

Pride and Prejudice- watch trailer, hands down. I watched it every year in high school and it was my post final exams treat throughout college. My adolescent self will always have a crush on Colin Firth.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Akashic Books, based out of Brooklyn

Last impulse book buy and why?

Big Friendship because I want to read more nonfiction and the subject of friendship has always fascinated me. I read that the authors went to therapy for their friendship and that fact alone made me get the book.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

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Jenny Bhatt, Each of Us Killers, short story collection

Nancy Johnson, The Kindest Lie, a novel

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Anju Gattani: Duty and Desire, a novel

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Zetta Elliott: A Place Inside of Me, middle grade fiction

Veena Rao: Purple Lotus, a novel

Tara Coyt: Real Talk About LGBTQIAP, non fiction

Maureen Joyce Connelly: Little Lovely Things, a novel

Molly Greeley: The Heiress, historical fiction novel

Donna Miscolta: Living Color, short stories

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

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Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

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John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel


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