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South Haven: A Novel
Akashic Books, 2016
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick 

Top Spring Indie Fiction, Library Journal

Take it to the Lake Summer Fiction, Minnesota Public Radio

From the Publisher

Siddharth Arora lives an ordinary life in the New England suburb of South Haven, but his childhood comes to a grinding halt when his mother dies in a car accident. Siddharth soon gravitates toward a group of adolescent bullies, drinking and smoking instead of drawing and swimming. He takes great pains to care for his depressive father, Mohan Lal, an immigrant who finds solace in the hateful Hindu fundamentalism of his homeland and cheers on Indian fanatics who murder innocent Muslims. When a new woman enters their lives, Siddharth and his father have a chance at a fresh start. They form a new family, hoping to leave their pain behind them.


South Haven is no simple coming-of-age tale or hero’s journey, blurring the line between victim and victimizer and asking readers to contend with the lies we tell ourselves as we grieve and survive. Following in the tradition of narratives by Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, Sawhney draws upon the measured lyricism of postcolonial writers like Michael Ondaatje but brings to his subjects distinctly American irreverence and humor.

Praise for South Haven

"... [A] vivid portrait of second-generation immigrants living in suburban New England... Sawhney is pitch-perfect when describing the uneasy relationship between adolescents and their parents... There is much emotional truth in the author’s sensitive portrayal of the despair and rage that can simmer away throughout adolescence. Hirsh Sawhney’s quietly devastating conclusion is both unexpected and deeply moving.The Times Literary Supplement

[A] sensitive, poignant, resonating novel” Bookslut

[T]his luminous debut . . . captures precisely the heartache of growing up.” Library Journal, Top Spring Indie Fiction

"Hirsh Sawhney's novel South Haven is an unforgettable and unnerving tale of grief and migration." —Largehearted Boy

A powerful story . . . a universal look at the complexity of how people wrestle with guilt and blame amid tragic loss.” —New Haven Independent


“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, author of The Moor’s Account


“Hirsh Sawhney’s perceptively rendered South Haven presents a volatile mix of second-generation migration, sadness, and cruelty in suburban America. It  is bold, accessible, funny, and heartbreaking.” —Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell


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


“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


“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


A novelist you will be reading for years to come." —Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us



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