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'South Haven': Loss, grief and clashing cultures in the American suburbs

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'South Haven' by Hirsh Sawhney
'South Haven' by Hirsh Sawhney
Courtesy of Akashic Books

"South Haven" is a coming-of-age story set in uncertain times: the modern American suburb.

The 10-year-old boy at the center of Hirsh Sawhney's new novel is thrown into a cycle of grief and confusion after the death of his mother, and as his father seeks solace in religious fundamentalism, Siddharth must find his own path out of the pain.

As the child of two Indian immigrants himself, Sawhney channeled memories of his own childhood in crafting the story.

"Though the book isn't autobiographical, the emotionality is something that comes from some place very deep inside me," Sawhney told MPR News host Kerri Miller.

Siddharth, adrift without his mother and growing ever more horrified by his father's taste for violence, turns to pre-teen rebellion: drinking, smoking, fighting. Sawhney's portrait of childhood grief is complex and explosive, and it challenges the definition of "victim."

For the full interview with Hirsh Sawhney on "South Haven," use the audio player above. "South Haven" is part of The Thread's Take It to the Lake summer fiction series.