Tucson Festival of Books

Monika Gupta, 1st Place, Fiction, 2024 Literary Awards

My novel-in-progress, The Right Kind, kicks off with our protagonist, Suhana, returning to her hometown of Gallaby, Missouri—affectionally referred to as Jalebi—and attending the first wedding of the season. Now in her mid-thirties and struggling after a failed twenty-four-hour engagement, she faces familiar pressures—like marriage—as well as unfamiliar pressures to abide by unspoken rules in the community.

As an Indian American who grew up in Missouri, I wanted to explore that complicated feeling of home and the resistance to change in both the wider population of the town and within our own cultural communities. By placing my characters in a fictional place in Missouri, I imagined a future in which a much larger and more diverse—yet still minority—South Asian population exists and vies for resources, space, and influence. In this pressure cooker, I wanted to see how events unfold and how characters react and behave as tension builds—until one day, it’s finally released.