Nishant Batsha


An Excerpt from All That Floats // Narrative Magazine 

His life and the Khalistan movement had existed like two distant lines running parallel into infinity until that brief moment when they veered into each other, crashing with the deafening roar of an explosion before they continued on their separate paths once again.

I Saw a Dream // TriQuarterly 

Back then they were giving people really strong sleeping pills to keep them from waking throughout the night. Before he left, John gave them to me and said that I should keep them somewhere safe, just in case.

When you’re married long enough, it’s hard to hide things. [pause]

I found him the next morning.

An Offering
 // [PANK] Magazine

“I’m tired. I just got off a flight, actually. I’m not sure why mom scheduled all this,” Kris paused and waved his hand towards the temple, “on the day I arrived.”

“Any day is a good day for a puja. Any day is a good day for God.”

“I guess,” Kris said, pausing to stifle a frown. “I mean, of course.”

Longform Essays

Bound and Fed // Popula

But what would they cook? What would they serve their Indian customers? What they invented anew was always tinged with the past. They had just come from plantations where their memories were turned into meals that fueled them through long days of cutting and milling cane. In the years after indenture, these meals took on elements of the old world and the new. The sons and daughters of girmitiyas created a new style of cooking, one that was both Indian and not. This was the food that would speak to their ancestors, their lives, and their new homes.

Cast Your Burdens // The Offing

Land, race, ethnicity, power, politics. The Indian Division of the Methodist Church seemed to me to reflect all the divisions that could take root in a society built on the separation of people. I had hoped that this wasn’t the case. I had hoped to find from each parishioner proof of something larger, something that could rise above the crude lines of ethnic nationalism. I wasn’t wrong.

Five Travelers (PDF) // Introduction to Smoke & Mirrors: India Photographs by Jan Serr (ISBN: 978-0-932282-13-2 / 978-0-932282-17-0)

At every point in India’s past, there have been travelers who have either instigated or recorded their sliver of history. Some were lucky enough to do both. Indeed, through four travelers it was possible to trace nearly seven hundred years of the subcontinent’s past. In a way, each traveler built upon the voyages and history that came before him. That is perhaps the nature of traveling: to explore all that is new that has been seen for generations.

Short Essays

Write What You (Don’t) Know: Graduate School, Research, and Writing a Novel //  The Millions

For someone who had an abiding interest in the world, writing from what I knew was not an option. I needed a bit of faith; I needed to take a flying leap into the unknown world just beyond my vision.

Who is an American? //  The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

The case opened with a question: “Is a high-caste Hindu, of full Indian blood, born at Amritsar, Punjab, India, a white person?”

The Condition: Existential Googling //  The Awl

But nothing is more satisfying then that moment of Existential Googling and pressing enter. Emotion, search, relief.

Too Human // [PANK] Magazine

This, for some reason, endlessly frustrates me. Not that Gmail cannot undelete a set of emails and chats from five years prior, but that I was allowed the option to obliterate them in the first place. I am angered by the idea that technology would acquiesce to such humanness so quickly, so easily.

Digital Archives of the Personal (Archived PDF Copy) //  The Bygone Bureau (Web Archive, Feb. 2012 crawl)

In my searches, I found anything but a concrete image. In its place was the fragment: illusory, transient, incomplete.

Book Reviews, Interviews, and more

Notable San Francisco // The Rumpus

Aggregating and blogging literary events across the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area every week. Also showcasing books recently published by local authors. Check it out for literary events in and around the Bay Area!

A Legal Thriller About a Magical Talking Lemur (An Interview with Anita Felicelli) // Electric Literature

The white male hero is a fantasy. That whole legal thriller genre is a fantasy of the American legal system, and I’m not interested in an escapist fantasy about society.

A Review of Ma Jian's China Dream // Ploughshares

The China Dream device is essentially a Freudian project taken to the grandest scale: each person’s manifest content (the dream that they can remember), is monitored, and, when needed, replaced with state propaganda. The optimal result? Individuals would finally behave as bees in a hive.

A Review of Mathangi Subramanian's A People's History of Heaven // The Believer

“In Heaven,” Subramanian writes, “anger is not about any one person. It’s about the whole world. The people around you are just close enough to take aim.” A People’s History of Heaven does not reduce its characters to dozens of fists raised in the air, but instead gives a full account of the extraordinary lives that stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the wreckage of a wealthy city, ready to fight against the bulldozers upon the horizon.

“This is not a time for frivolity or entertainment”: An Interview with Cecille Pineda // Ploughshares

"It’s an act of mourning for a culture that’s been denied to me. I’ve felt that pain from very early on. When it seizes me, it’s a crippling pain. My father, as much as he turned his back on his past, was fundamentally Mexican. That’s what I feel I lost."

Be Your Best Self: On Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman // The Millions

This is perhaps Murata at her most subversive. Labor in the first-world archipelago has more or less bifurcated into either precarious office work or precarious service work. While the digital marketer can embark on a personal branding journey, what is left for the cashier or barista in an age of zero-hour contracts and gig work? The answer comes from another aspect of branding: the store brand.

Into the Dark Waters (review of Gaiutra Bahadur's Coolie Woman) // The Caribbean Review of Books

Academics tend to call these types of silences lacunae. The term literally refers to missing or blank portions in a manuscript. It’s a fitting word. It comes from the Latin for “hole” or “pit.” In any case, only a deft writer and historian can resist the call to madness and navigate an archive filled with blank spaces. We can be thankful to have found her in Gaiutra Bahadur.

Interview with Paul Holdengräber (Director of Public Programming, NYPL) // The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

“… partly because I came from a world—a Mitteleuropa world, a World of Yesterday as Stefen Zweig speaks about. It’s a world in which the more interests you had the more interesting you were. The more scope or horizon you had, the more importantly you could contribute to the world in an interesting way.”