South Haven: A Novel
Akashic Books, 2016 (North America/UK)
HarperCollins, March 2017 (India)
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick
Nominated for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
Shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize
Shortlisted for the Tata Lit live First Book Award
An Amazon.in Memorable Book of 2017
Top Spring Indie Fiction, Library Journal
Take it to the Lake Summer Fiction, Minnesota Public Radio
Praise for South Haven
"Vivid... pitch-perfect... sensitive... quietly devastating... deeply moving."
—The Times Literary Supplement
"A fantastic debut about growing up as an outsider in a divisive environment."
“A powerful debut novel… which explores themes hitherto less explored in Indian-American immigrant fiction: the visceral painfulness of social marginalisation; the experience of bullying, adolescent aggression and violence while growing up in suburban America; and the growing distance between two generations, one trying to find its way in present-day reality and the other lost in memories of what they left behind.”
—The Indian Express
“Hirsh Sawhney writes with wit and tenderness about a harsh childhood.. And such is his power of insight that this novel, set in a New England suburb, manages to illuminate a larger landscape of cruelty and torment.
—Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire
“Pitch-perfect... This isn’t the story of an Indian family steeped in its own foreignness; the Arora men may be different, but they are not ghettoized.… South Haven [also] does justice to its female characters… In the early 1990s, Salman Rushdie wrote that his Satanic Verses was a “love song to our mongrel selves.” On a more intimate scale, South Haven too looks at how new types of people and belief systems come into being.”
"[A] sensitive, poignant, resonating novel."
“[Sawhney has] given us a glimpse of another side of the immigrant experience... [He] depicts the hypocritical underside of an Indian migrant family in the U.S. who has benefited from its liberal ideas, but cannot abandon its own regressive thoughts.”
“South Haven is an evocative tale of loss and grief, with teenage angst, extremist fervour and lingering despair added to cauldron of emotions… Written with utmost honesty and sensitivity, the book also opens our eyes to the fragmented, polarised, and bigoted world in which we are raising our children.”
"[Sawhney is one] of New Haven’s most gifted fiction writers."
—New Haven Independent
“[T]his luminous debut . . . captures precisely the heartache of growing up.”
—Library Journal, Top Spring Indie Fiction
"South Haven is an affecting tale of a family's loss, a child's grief, and the search for solace in all the wrong places. Hirsh Sawhney is an incandescent voice in fiction.”
—Laila Lalami, Pulitzer Prize Finalist
“A rare, intimate portrait… of a boy who navigates adolescence in the absence of his mother… The sentences in South Haven are crisp and short, creating a sense of immediacy, drawing you straight into the Arora house as their grief and healing unfold…”
—The Hindu BusinessLine
"A raw portrait of a motherless family... poetic... [Sawhney's] characters are distinctive: They open up differently, more ominously, than American fiction's best-known South Asians of the Northeast — Jhumpa Lahiri's... [and] exhibit an outsider-ness without glamour."
—The Village Voice
“Sawhney manage[s] to convincingly portray the pain and stress of growing up in a fractured society.”
—The Telegraph India
"A lyrical yet disturbing look at the grim realities of migration and American suburban life, South Haven manages to be both witty and unnerving at the same time. It is a novel that resonates long in the memory."
—Caryl Phillips, author of The Lost Child
"Sawhney proves himself a master...."
"Sawhney's portrait of childhood grief is complex and explosive, and it challenges the definition of [what it means to be a] 'victim.'"
—Minnesota Public Radio
“Is this the novel that will break the Indian-immigrant-in-America mould?”
“Hirsh Sawhney's perceptively rendered South Haven presents a volatile mix of second-generation migration, sadness, and cruelty in suburban America. South Haven is bold, accessible, funny, and heartbreaking."
—Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell
"Quick and lucid… This dark coming-of-age novel with its mix of plots about family, loss and home is a tough yet compelling read.”
"Hirsh Sawhney's novel South Haven is an unforgettable and unnerving tale of grief and migration."
"A poetic and irreverent coming-to-age story..."
—Tabish Khair, Writers Read
“A novelist you will be reading for years to come.”
—Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us
“This is polished writing and will not stay hidden… Throughout, one is reminded of Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, another story that has a measured pace, a tale which just will not be hurried…Siddharth has been beautifully, painfully, sketched … Much political thought informs this accomplished piece of work, making it a most satisfactory read.
—Earthen Lamp Journal
“In his debut novel.... Sawhney chose his native New Haven and suburbs as backdrop for this part tale of mourning, part coming-of-age story . . . Sawhney skillfully captures [his protagonist's] readjustment to a life without his mother...."
—New Haven Magazine
“Hirsh Sawhney has produced an intelligent and beautiful novel. It is about America and India, fathers and children, families and loss. The world is changing and here is a new map of belonging."
—Nadeem Aslam, author of The Blind Man’s Garden