Tanuja Desai Hidier

Tanuja Desai Hidier

After a Bombay babyhood and Wilbraham, Mass childhood (home of Friendly’s ice

cream!), Boston-born author/singer-songwriter Tanuja Desai Hidier moved to NYC

where she interned at The Paris Review, hostessed at a Tex-Mex restaurant,

secretaried for the Whitney Museum’s Film & Video Department, walked a moody

saluki (who once escaped and sent her on a 100mph Central Park chase), co-

hosted streaming music program DesiVibe (til the Internet bubble popped),

anchored an Indian news show (mispronouncing key headline words), party-

promoted, copyedited/wrote for teen mags (“Quiz: Is He Really That Into You?”),

sobbed into her pillow, laughed until she fell over, danced like no one was watching

(and likely no one was), wrote/directed/festival-ated short film “The Test”, and front-

woman’d punk-pop band io, regularly gigging at CBGBs, Mercury Lounge, the Elbow

Room, and Bitter End—i.e, she assiduously avoided writing a novel (trans-

Atlantically, too, for a year in Paris).

It was only when she moved to London for a couple years (which turned into 17,

during which time she birthed daughters with British accents) that the tale of

protagonist Dimple Lala grew clear. Born Confused, Tanuja’s pioneering debut,

considered to be the first South Asian American YA novel, was written largely from a

Portobello Road flat overlooking the fruit/veg stalls, Intoxica Records, and a betting


Tanuja has also made two albums of original songs based on Born Confused and

the award-winning sequel Bombay Blues. She recently wrote the foreword to Untold:

Defining Moments of the Uprooted, a nonfiction anthology featuring 31 new Brown

womxn writers. Her piece, Sooji, Sakar, Badam, Ghee, was this August included in

Pen America’s India At 75 anthology, a historic collection by authors from India/the

Indian diaspora reflecting on India’s 75th year of Independence. Motherland, her

prose poem in honor of her mother, can be found in Moonglade, in Amjambo Africa.

She is now based in Maine, where she serves on the Board of Directors of The

Telling Room.

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