Pigeon Pages Interview with Rakesh Satyal

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Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

Back in 2015, my now-husband and I became completely obsessed with the odd phenomenon of the painted bunting that was living in Prospect Park. We went one day to see it, and the crowd of bird-loving enthusiasts gathered -- and determined -- to catch a glimpse of the little guy was so endearing, a truly only-in-New York experience.

What is your most memorable reading experience?

The first-ever "big book" I read was The Secret Garden when I was five. That will always stand out to me as being formative and magical.

What makes you most excited about No One Can Pronounce My Name?

I think that, during this intense and harrowing political time, it is personal stories of difference and feeling out of place that speak to people more so than generalizations about an ethnicity or a community, so I think that the very specific characters I created in the book and the very specific ways in which they find themselves and others speaks directly to that sentiment.

To tweet or not to tweet?

 I tweet more than a flock of birds, so: tweet.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

I am currently reading Rebecca Makkai's deeply moving The Great Believers.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I don't know if "favorite" is the right word, but I've heard the erroneous equation of "Indian + queer = less instead of more" more times than I can count, and it is always newly frustrating.

What literary journals do you love?

I particularly love what Slice magazine is doing. 

What shakes your tail feathers?

Janelle Monáe.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

Try to surprise yourself -- and, by extension, the reader -- on every page.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

We now have an Instant Pot and make delicious hard-boiled eggs in it, so that's a lot of other eggs.


Rakesh Satyal is a Senior Editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. He held previous positions at Doubleday and HarperCollins and spent three years working as a naming specialist in the world of branding. He has sat on the advisory board for the annual PEN World Voices Festival and has taught in the publishing program at New York University. He is the author of the novels Blue Boy and No One Can Pronounce My Name (Picador).