Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Nitin Deckha

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Nitin Deckha was born in London and raised in Toronto. His stories have appeared in various publications, including Existere, Anokhi and at and in collected works. Nitin holds a BA from McGill University in Montreal and a PhD in Anthropology from Rice University in Houston. His interest in the relationship between intimacy and the city compelled him to do fieldwork on the changing urban environments in global cities. Choosing two inner-city neighbourhoods on the edges of central London, Nitin examined the cultural politics of urban revitalization, focusing on historic preservationists, community planning activists, and small scale entrepreneurs. This tableau nourished Nitin’s first forays into fiction, two stories published in the South Asian anthology, Bolo! Bolo! (2000). Upon completing his PhD, Nitin worked in advertising and consumer research in New York and Toronto. After being fired in 2002, Nitin began writing the short stories that appear in Shopping for Sabzi (2008). He also began to teach, first in the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto, and later at McMaster University, Humber College and the University of Guelph Humber. His journalism occasionally appears in Desi Life, a Toronto Star magazine. Nitin is married to Priya Chopra with whom he has two children, Arjun and Nayantara.

Send your questions and comments for Nitin to

Ten Questions with Nitin Deckha


What was your first publication and where was it published?


My first publications were two short stories, “Wimbledon” and “Venus in Aries,” both published in Bolo! Bolo! A Collection of Writings by Second Generation South Asians living in North America, edited by Kitchen Table Collective. (Toronto: SAPNA, 2000).


Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

Shopping for Sabzi

By Nitin Deckha

Shopping for Sabzi, interweaves themes of ambition and identity in the lives of its brash, young, and successful Indo-Canadian and Indo-American characters. Poignant and humorous, this collection of stories describes the jockeying for social status, successful love, career fulfillment and personal meaning and the anxieties of its characters as they balance the old ways with the new and reflect on the passage of time. In “Piece of Cake,” Raj, transplanted from Houston to New York, and dating a European photographer, is forced to confront Neha, his ex-girlfriend, an anorexic suffering a major relapse. In “Spick and Span,” Shilpa doubts the path she has taken when she’s asked to help matchmake at a Gujarati marriage convention in New Jersey.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series features Nitin Deckha on March 9

Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 7:00pm


York University
Accolade West Building, Room 206

York University welcomes Nitin Deckha to the Canadian Writers in Person series. Featuring poets, playwright and prolific fiction writers, the series highlights Canada's ever-growing literary talent.


Writing in the Age of Social Media

Over the last two Thursdays, I attended two symposia that sought to investigate the changing landscape of writing and book publishing in the twinned age of the internet and social media. The first, called The Written Word and the World of Books: An Interaction with Social Media, was held in conjunction with Social Media Week that took place in six global cities, including Toronto, during the first week of February. A range of speakers, headed by editor and Twitter-short story writer, Arjun Basu, spoke of the impact of social media on writing and publishing, assessing the impact on publishers, readers, and writers (often, lamentably, at least for me, in that order).

The benefits of literary festivals: A critique of Kriti

I had the opportunity to partake on a multiple levels at the 2009 Desilit Kriti festival of South Asian literature and arts in Chicago last weekend (June 11-14) I was only in town for June 12th and most of June 13th, but during that span of a day-and-half, I led or co-led two writing workshops (beginning and intermediate), was on a panel on “building the buzz,” about the creative and innovative ways to promote one’s work, and read from my work. I had the opportunity to meet a range of South Asian writers, mainly based in the US, as well as interact with a handful of emerging writers in the workshops as well as in informal settings, between panels, over dinner, while walking under the “L” train.

Readings and Interviews

Last week, I did a phone interview with Rashi Khilnani, a journalist at Radio Canada International, the international arm of CBC Radio. She presents a segment called the "Indo Canadian report" on a show called "The Link" that broadcasts internationally. What was interesting about the segment was that it is an audio collage of elements of my interview with Rashi and her discussion of my book, Shopping for Sabzi, with the host of "The Link". I did some campus radio interviews earlier in the season, but the questions Rashi posed pushed me to consider the book in a larger frame of how the book speaks to a generation coming of age. If you'd like to hear the segment, here is the link to the Link: presents an evening with Nitin Deckha: Shopping for Sabzi and other conversations presents an "Shopping for Sabzi and other conversations"

Please join us for a book reading and Q&A with Nitin Deckha as we celebrate the launch of his debut book, Shopping for Sabzi. Meet, mingle and network with other like minded individuals.

The interview will be led by Zenia Wadhwani of Desi-Lit, Toronto Chapter

Tickets will be available at the door for $10. Books will also be available at the event for $15 each.


$20 (entry + signed book)
$8 (entry only)

Ticket price includes complimentary

The Host
14 Prince Arthur Avenue
Toronto, ON

(416) 962-4678

All ticket sales are final and non-refundable.

To purchase tickets, visit:

The Writer's Life

This is my final posting as Writer in Residence and it seemed fit to follow in the footsteps of other previous WiRs and say something about this nebulous, fabled thing called "the writer's life." It is also the day that I saw my book, Shopping for Sabzi in print, fresh off the press (and available in stores by next Wednesday!). AND, if that wasn't enough, it is also the day that my very first website,, went live. All on Hallowe'en, which casts a supernatural pallor on the whole thing.

The Withdrawal Method by Pasha Malla

Pushed through/Grades equals Money

Over the last five years, I have worked largely as an educator in college and university settings. Like my colleagues, I grumble about the consumer mentality of our students, of the unseemliness of edutainment that tends to be far more appreciated and the reluctance among students to take responsibility for their own learning and progress.

Ordinary, Extraordinary part 2

Some time ago, the precise moment of which escapes me, I signed up for regular emails from the Conference Board of Canada. Their missives are not frequent and I occasional take a side-long glance at them, wonder how anyone/everyone studies the economy and then go onto the next page of emails to answer. Yet, one factoid that always seem to pop up, in those interminable assessments of assessing and ranking cities and countries, is Canada's relative poor scores on innovation.

Can you hug a memory?

A memorable line from Anik See's Saudade (Coach House Books) is one, and I'm paraphrasing, says that you can't hug a memory. A hug conjures images of an embrace that's warm, comforting, reassuring, familiar. A hug suggests a re-affirmation, often without words, of a relationship. It may be a newly established one, such as a hug at the end of dinner party as someone makes their way out the door. Yet often the most meaningful hugs, the hugs we want to make again and again, represent existing relationships that are of some significance to us.

Official History vs. Collective Memory

My mother lives in a long-term care centre in Malton. For the last three years, the centre has had a Multicultural Festival. During the last two years, I have served as the "family" representative on the Centre's Diversity Committee whose signature project is to plan the festival. This year's festival was held in September. Consisting of vendors, performers, and community groups, we also featured a display about the history of Malton.

The organization, Heritage Mississauga, which is not affiliated with the city, organized the historical display. However, this display ended in the late 1950s, coinciding with the heyday of Malton's history of airplane manufacturing and bedroom community of workers at the nearby Malton (now Pearson) Airport.

Pedaller/Peddler in and of Places

Anik See's Saudade (Coach House Books) reminds me of the work of another writer of place: the German-Jewish writer Walter Benjamin. In one of his posthumous anthologies of writings, Illuminations, Benjamin muses about the differences of history and memory, and elaborates his notion of the flaneur. See, in her contemplations and meditations about various places in Canada, Holland, Sri Lanka, Australia and the United States, reminds me of Benjamin's flaneur and the acts of flanerie.

Saudade: The Possibilities of Place by Anik See

Post-Election Funk: Ordinary, After All

In a previous post, I talked about Margaret Atwood's suggestion that artists both risk takers (and hard workers) as well as ordinary Canadians. After watching the results from the election on TV and online, and reading the various kinds of diagnoses of what went awry for the various parties and the prognoses by political pundits, I stumbled upon on our historic low voting percentage: 59.1%. With 40% of eligible voters not voting and 37% of the voters voting a Conservative government back in, we have, it seems, directly or indirectly said yes to the status quo and no to another, riskier result. Perhaps the economic tsunami has us running for cover, the falling part of our global financial markets that was based on buying and selling risk has made us afraid of risk.

Artists: Ordinary or Extraordinary?

I posted a video sent to me that was on YouTube which takes a swipe at Harper's comments that ordinary people were uninterested in art and implying that ordinary people weren't artists. Margaret Atwood has entered into the foray that has been spawned since, writing a column in the Globe and Mail and appearing live on on Tuesday October 6th. In both, she reiterates arguments about the economic impact of the arts in Canada (some 46 billion in 2007), the number of Canadians it employs (over 1 million). In her essay piece, she talks about creativity as integral to the Canadian identity. (

Artists are ordinary Canadians, too

The video offers a pointed response to Prime Minister Harper's comments of a few weeks ago that most "ordinary Canadians" do not really care about the arts, or are not affected by it> His comments implied that art was a luxury of sorts and that artists were "rich" whiners going to galas paid for by the public purse.

Is Google Making us Stupid?: The Internet's effect on reading and writing

In the Atlantic Monthly a few months, Nicholas Carr wrote a piece called, "Is Google Making us Stupid?" Perhaps different than the usual laments about the arguable erosion of reading and writing in our internet age, the article focused on how the way people read is shifting.

Here are two passages which I found very telling:

Writing and Slow Food

I teach at Humber College (well, it's officially the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning) Last week Dr Raj Patel, author Stuffed and Starved, and a research on global food policy, gave a lecture at the Institute. He described Slow Food as the opposite of the industrial food system and its politics of slowing things down, of appreciating the beauty of cooking and preparing meals, the art of gastronomy, if you will, and how in many ways it presents a way of doing things that runs counter to our "accelerated culture," as Douglas Coupland described it almost two decades ago.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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