Tanuja had some fantastic stories to share about her experiences at public readings, which include being asked to sing on the spot, acting out other peoples’ works, and forging what can only be described as a psychic connection with THE ENGLISH PATIENT author Michael Ondaatje.


“…As I listened to Hidier read a riveting excerpt from Bombay Blues, I was sucked into the vortex of the world I had been avoiding for so long. I couldn’t recall exactly when I’d read her first novel Born Confused; it had landed in my hands somewhere between the angst of high school and the smugness of college. I remembered identifying deeply with the protagonist Dimpla Lala, but to hear Hidier read the vibrant and lilting prose that jumped off the page was an entirely new experience. She was born to write, I thought, and to sing … I experienced a surge of inspiration, from an author whose work I loved and admired.”

—Urban Asian (from “The Voice of a Generation: How Tanuja Desai Hidier Helped Me Find My Voice”, review of Tanuja’s South Asian Women’s Creative Collective 7th Annual Literary Festival keynote speech/closing night reading and music performance with Atom Fellows in NYC, April 4 2015, by Arpita Mukherjee)

On Friday, March 20, YA authors David Levithan, Cathleen Davitt Bell, Heather Demetrios, Tanuja [Desai] Hidier, Kathryn Holmes, Scott Westerfeld, Holly Black, and Kevin Emerson gathered in the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan for an NYC Teen Author Festival event. David Levithan jumped up on stage first, announcing, “We’re going to act out each other’s books. Remember, the bar for authors acting should be set very low.” For the next hour, the gang read aloud from Levithan’s Hold Me Closer, Davitt Bell’s I Remember You, Demetrios’s I’ll Meet You There, Emerson’s Breakout, Holmes’s The Distance Between Lost and Found, Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest, and [opener] Desai Hidier’s Bombay Blues. They laughed, they swore, they danced, and they acted—pretty well! From the photos and illustrations below, you can tell how much fun they had—and how much fun the audience had.”

Lauren Passell (“We’re Going to Act Out Each Other’s Books:” Teen Authors Unite for YA #BNAuthorEvent, March 23, 2015)

NYC Teen Author Festival in Photos

The Bombay Blues/Bombay Spleen book/album India release party on January 29 2015 was a Mumbai Mirror pick of the day (Things To Do in Mumbai Today: Watch Words and Music Mix”), a Mid-Day pick (“Night Out: Sing Your Blues Away”), and Rolling Stone highlight.

“Dare I say the best music night of the #ZeeJLF? [via Twitter] The second night at Clarks Amer was an explosive fusion of literature and music, a true embodiment of the spirit of the ZEE Jaipur Literary Festival. Author Tanuja Desai Hidier and guitarist Gaurav Vaz opened the night with songs from the world’s first ‘booktrack:’ songs inspired from Hidier’s latest novel, Bombay Blues. The novel is the sequel to Born Confused, the story of an American-Indian Dimple Lala, and her songs painted vivid pictures of Bombay, including the chaotic Chawri Bazaar [Bombay Spleen track “Chor Bazaar”] – the market said to be the home of everything you’ve ever lost. Jeet Thayil, another writer who so colourfully evokes Bombay in his novel Narcopolis, then took to the stage with his band Still Dirty [featuring Tanuja on two songs]… Where Still Dirty toyed with the shocking, the ethereal, the cerebral, Transglobal Underground had obviously flown to Jaipur with the single intent of giving the audience one hell of a good time. … the result was a powerful blend of ska, Balkan brass and dancehall, rousing the audience to a leaping frenzy …”
—Eloise Stevens, from her review of Jaipur Literature Festival Music Stage event (January 22 2015) with Tanuja & Gaurav Vaz, Still Dirty (featuring Tanuja), and Transglobal Underground in collaboration with Fanfara Tirana and R. Bharat Brass Band

“Queen Harish, when asked about her favourite part of JLF, is stated to have answered, “The music stage.” This year too, an eclectic collection of bands from around the world performed at JLF: Tanuja Desai Hidier and Gaurav Vaz, Still Dirty, Transglobal Underground, Dub Colossus, Sain Zahoor, Rizwan Muazzam Qawwals.”

Hard News Media (“Literature: Notes on JLF 15” by Lily Tekseng, February 9, 2015)

“Tanuja read a scene from Bombay Blues and sang a few songs from the album, Bombay Spleen, and it made her book such a multi-sensory experience. While readers will certainly get plenty out of Bombay Blues if they don’t listen to the corresponding CD (our reviewer called it “one of the most thought-provoking novels [she’s] ever read”), it’s even more magical when you can feel the story on multiple layers. Lesson here? If you’re multitalented (lucky you!) try blending your skills in a single project — not only will you get more out of it personally, but your readers (or listeners, or viewers) will become even more immersed in the overall message.”

—TeenReads.com (Bombay Blues/Bombay Spleen book/album launch at (le) Poisson Rouge, NYC, September 4, 2014)

“Louder notes will belt out when Tanuja’s music accompanies the launch of her novel Born Confused. Green-eyed savvy author Tanuja Desai Hidier appears anything but confused.”  

—The Times of India (Born Confused UK launch)

“Not many books come with soundtracks, but tonight’s occasion experiments with the latest brand of multimedia melting pot: the book reading with a live soundtrack. NYC’s resident Indian diva of the decks DJ Rekha drops a custom-made, prose-complementing mix, and Desai Hidier’s bands San Transisto and T&A add to the confusion.”
—Flavorpill, pick of the week (When We Were Twins Joe’s Pub NYC album launch)

“Like her own persona, Tanuja Desai Hidier’s first novel Born Confused is a vivid and colourful portrayal of the experiences of an Indian-American. Poetic and lyrical in many parts, the novel reflects its author’s talent as a songwriter. At the UK launch at London’s Nehru Centre Tanuja also sang ‘Visionary’, a song written by her, based on her novel.”
—HindustanTimes.com (Born Confused UK launch)

“Tanuja brought a wonderful sense of lyricism to her readings which was brought to full force later in her singing. Her voice was warm and melting and she gives care and subtlety to her interpretations. The pieces she chose to read definitely made an impact on the audience. Accompanists Manisha Shahane, Blake Newman and Matt Taylor struck just the right note with their background music. Both [Tanuja and Manisha] then collaborated to perform Desai Hidier’s song ‘Visionary’.”
—Lokvani.com (Tanuja’s Born Confused / When We Were Twins Rock-n-Reading at Boston’s Zeitgeist Gallery, “Zeitgeist Gallery Comes Alive With An Unusual Artistic Production”)

An exhilarated Nehru Centre packed to the gills listened with rapt attention to Tanuja Desai Hidier’s debut novel Born Confused at its recent launch. Incandescent and mesmerizing, the Indian-American writer held court over a spellbound audience. She writes like she speaks, gushing…like the book which, intertwining color into each sentence, weaves fresh enlivened idiomatic prose into a rite of passage snapshot of a summer of love.”

—Libas International (Born Confused UK launch)

“An amazing set, stage presence and completeness in how Angels With Whips perform. Great things beckon.”
—Anna B. Sexton, director at Open to Create (Tanuja’s Rock-n-Reading at Rich Mix, London: SAWCC’s celebration of International Women’s Month 2013)

”Tanuja and Marie’s (aka Angels With Whips) Rock-n-Reading was so dynamic with just words, a guitar and Tanuja’s powerful voice which brought those words to a larger than life presence, filling the room with soul and rocking the joint!”

—Sonia Kumari Mehta, founder of SAWCC London (Tanuja’s Rock-n-Reading at Rich Mix, London; SAWCC’s celebration of International Women’s Month 2013)

“What an incredible evening! From the moment it began I was mesmerised.”
—Binita Walia, director of the Space inbetween (Tanuja’s Rock-n-Reading at Rich Mix, London; SAWCC’s celebration of International Women’s Month 2013)

“Tanuja seems anything but confused. Her voice lyrical and expressive, her reading captured the minds of her audience [who were] all deeply absorbed in the story of Dimple Lala. Tanuja really seems to have turned the C for confusion into clarity and filled a void. What’s more, she has raised questions we can really ask ourselves—what does it mean to be Indian, or British, and more importantly, to be ourselves?”

—Young Jains (Born Confused UK launch)

“…Most Mumbaikars are spoiled for choice, made to choose between Malayalam rock band Avial at Blue Frog, rappers at gig series BOMB Thursdays at 3 Wise Monkeys and author-singer Tanuja Desai Hidier’s book and album launch show featuring the likes of DJ Uri…”

Rolling Stone India (from “Faridkot Live It Up with Bollywood Nostalgia and Psych Rock” by Anurag Tagat, January 30, 2015)

“Pupils at a city college were treated to a novel reading by an internationally known author as part of school book week. Tanuja Desai Hidier visited Sir Jonathan North Community College, Leicester, for readings of her book Born Confused. She also read poetry and sang songs based on the book during her three sessions.”

—Leicester Mercury

The Cambridge Chronicle (“Across-the-Pond Collaboration Celebrates Shared Heritage” by Susie Davidson, April 2, 2003)

Notes from the Slushpile: “The Neither-Here-Nor-There Reader” by Candy Gourlay (from the 11th Annual NCRCL/British IBBY Children’s Literature Conference on the theme East Meets West in Children’s Literature, 13 November 2004, Roehampton University, London)