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Biography & Autobiography Cultural Heritage

This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart

A Memoir in Halves

by (author) Madhur Anand

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Jun 2020
Cultural Heritage, India & South Asia, Emigration & Immigration
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price

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“Wondrously and elegantly written in language that astonishes and moves the reader…This is an important book: an emotional and intellectual tour de force.” —Jane Urquhart

An experimental memoir about Partition, immigration, and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma, using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present.

We begin with a man off balance: one in one thousand, the only child in town whose polio leads to partial paralysis. We meet his future wife, chanting Hai Rams for Gandhiji and choosing education over marriage. On one side of the line that divides this book, we follow them as their homeland splits in two and they are drawn together, moving to Canada and raising their children in mining towns and in crowded city apartments. And when we turn the book over, we find the daughter's tale—we see how the rupture of Partition, the asymmetry of a father's leg, the virus of a mother's rage, makes its way to the next generation.

Told through the lenses of biology, physics, history and poetry, this is a memoir that defies form and convention to immerse the reader in the feeling of what remains when we've heard as much of the truth as our families will allow, and we're left to search for ourselves among the pieces they've carried with them.

About the author

Madhur Anand's poetry has appeared in several literary magazines across Canada and the US including The Malahat Review, Grain, CV2, The New Quarterly, Interim and Room. Her poetry has also been anthologized in The Shape of Form: Creative Writing about Science and Mathematics and nominated for a Pushcart prize. Formerly a professor at Laurentian University in Sudbury, she now holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Ecological Change at the University of Guelph. Her award-winning research in the areas of ecological modelling, forest ecology, and conservation ecology has been widely published in several leading international journals. She serves on the editorial board of Community Ecology, Research Letters in Ecology and the Open Conservation Biology journal.

Madhur Anand's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“An innovative, moving account of three generations of a South Asian Canadian family as they negotiate time, history, memory and loss, this book of constant, fleeting juxtapositions is a confluence of the intimate and the objective that blends science, personal narrative and fictional elements to push the non-fiction form into bold new territory. In This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart, Anand challenges the ways we think about memoir and family history.”
—Governor General’s Award Peer Assessment Committee

“In this formally inventive and expansive memoir, [Anand] combines the precision of scientific language with a plurality of possibilities of poetic language to explore trauma and its legacy.”
—Sangamithra Iyer, Desi Books

“This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart is intimate, elegant, and audacious in its fundamental question of where our stories begin and end.”
—Andreae Callanan, Canadian Notes and Queries
“Truly poetic and at times heartbreaking.”
—Deepa Mehta, filmmaker

“A beautiful experiment that free falls through metaphors and anecdotes, and delivers us truths that are like rare butterflies.”
—Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel

“I loved this book.”
—Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders

“Sweeping, gorgeous, bold and piercing.”
—Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker

“Erudite, honest, thought-provoking and immensely readable.”
—Olive Senior, author of The Pain Tree

“Madhur Anand shows us how to use science in the service of art.”
—Lee Smolin, author of The Life of the Cosmos

“This is a book I wish I could give to my great-grandparents.”
—Rudrapriya Rathore, writer and critic

“A truly wondrous book.”
—Barb Minett, founder of The Bookshelf

"Wondrously and elegantly written in language that astonishes and moves the reader, Madhur Anand’s exquisite and complex memoir explores memory, science, place, migration, relationships, and ecology, and delves deeply into the multiple meanings of partition. This is an important book: an emotional and intellectual tour de force."
—Jane Urquhart, author of The Stonecarvers
"An electrical storm of a book. Sweeping, gorgeous, bold and piercing, Madhur Anand writes with control and heat, a far-reaching brain and a poet’s heart. This Red Line achieves the rarest feat: it takes two asymmetrical halves and assembles them into a whole—as vivid and uneasy as life itself."
—Claudia Dey, Heartbreaker and Stunt

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