“I wrote a novel,” says Janika Oza, “that moves from India to Kenya to Uganda to Canada and the United Kingdom, probing questions of belonging and survival in shifting lands and homes. My writing was propelled by a desire to understand that question of where I come from. But embedded in that question were more: what does it mean to be a migrant community settling in another colonized place? To seek refuge on stolen land? What does it mean to pursue safety and security in a system that is also causing harm to other communities?”
Janika Oza has an impressive CV for a debut novelist. A chapter of her novel, A History of Burning, was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize and published in Prairie Schooner. Praise for it has been generous, with the New York Times Book Review calling it “remarkable… A haunting, symphonic tale that speaks to the nuanced complexities of class and trauma… This demand—and spirit—for bolder storytelling that transcends borders and identities certainly can be found in Oza’s generous novel.” Janika is the winner of the 2022 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction and the 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest. She has received fellowships and support from VONA, Tin House, One Story, the Millay Colony, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She is a Features reader for The Rumpus and a 2020 Diaspora Dialogues long-form fiction mentee.
Appearing in 11. Complicated Belonging