Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place Neema Avashia West Virginia University Press March 2022 ISBN: 978-1-952271-42-7 168 pages PB: $19.99 order here
Another Appalachia: Coming up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place is a moving memoir written by teacher and writer, Neema Avashia. The book focuses on her life growing up in West Virginia as a queer desi Appalachian woman and the countless stereotypes she has had to endure throughout her life due to her multiple identities. The way Avashia talks about her intersectionality in a candid, lighthearted, and multifaceted manner is so refreshing. Not only does she address stereotypes, but she also faces them head-on by complicating the narrative by saying a place, or an identity, does not have to be just one thing. This particular quote really stuck with me: “Through these trips, I grew to love the wild and wonderful aspects of West Virginia, even as I struggled with the religious and racial elements. Its natural beauty settled into my sensory memory right next to the Hindu puja. West Virginia is the only home I know, though it is not a home that always loves me back” (92). I love how, in just a few sentences, Neema Avashia was able to explain how while West Virginia and Appalachia have a complex history with the inclusion of intersectionalities, the place was still a home that she loved. This memoir does a great job of showing that both of these narratives can exist simultaneously. Moreover, it was incredibly inspirational the way Avashia took very unfair treatment and perpetuated stereotypes and turned it into something informative and inclusive. She noticed that people’s outlooks on the place that she considered her home did not exactly reflect her own, and instead of being silenced by other voices, Avashia decided to tell her story. Whether you have all of the same identities as Avashia, some of them, or none, this book provides incredible insight into intersectionality, complicated relationships between truth and socially constructed stereotypes, and a rarely heard, but desperately needed, personal perspective.
Leah Brennsteiner (she/her/hers) is a senior at WVU. She is majoring in English (with emphases in Creative Writing and Professional Writing & Editing) and Women’s and Gender Studies. She works as a writing consultant/social media coordinator for the Eberly Writing Studio in addition to her internship at Change Seven. Leah enjoys reading, writing, running, and watching her favorite television shows on repeat. She grew up in Johnstown, PA with her mom, dad, two older brothers, a younger sister, and her wonderful dog, Molly. After graduation she plans on going to get her Masters degree in English and then work in a book publishing company as an editor. Her current book recommendation would be The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.