Episode 37: Border Less by Namrata Poddar

Photos by Elena Bessi

Border Less is a novel that centers desert and coastal spaces, predominantly of Mumbai and Greater Los Angeles, with layovers in the Thar Desert and African islands of the Indian Ocean. Divided in two sections, “Roots” and “Routes,” the book traces the migratory journey of Dia Mittal, an airline call center agent in Mumbai who is searching for a better life. As her search takes her to the United States, Dia’s checkered relationship with the American Dream dialogues with the experiences and perspectives of a global South Asian community across the class spectrum—call center agents, travel agents, immigrant maids, fashion designers, blue- and white-collar workers in the hospitality industry, junior and senior artists in Bollywood, hustling single mothers, academics, tourists in the Third World, refugees displaced by military superpowers, Marwari merchants and trade caravans of the Silk Road, among others. What connects the novel’s web of brown border-crossing characters is their quest for belonging and a negotiation of power struggles, mediated by race, class, caste, gender, religion, nationality, age, or place. With its fragmented form, staccato rhythm, repetition, and play with English language, Border Less questions the “mainstream” Western novel and its assumptions of good storytelling.” Description from Namrata Poddar’s website. 

In another quiet episode, the Spoilers dig deep into issues of borders and migration both in Poddar’s novel and in their own lives. It quickly becomes clear that while migration is a more immediate issue for some, it really impacts us all in significant ways. Whether you’re venturing around the world or around the corner, we all have to reckon with the impact of moving and crossing boundaries in our lives. Check out this pretty personal episode to see what the Spoilers have to share about their own experiences.

Mentioned in the Show/References to Check Out

  • August Wilson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
  • Tressie McMillan Cottom – which book? Thick
  • Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker
  • One Thousand and One Nights
  • Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Louise Erdrich, The Sentence
  • Ramayana
  • Audre Lorde, Zami

What we are watching, eating, listening to, etc!

  • Crystal – Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Todd – Cey Adams: ETCetera – 40 Years of Art & Design at the NewStudio Gallery (until August 12)
  • Anita – Wildhood (2021) streaming on Hulu

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