The Assay Interview Project: Anand Prahlad
January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019
Anand Prahlad is the author of two books of poems, Hear My Story and Other Poems, and As Good As Mango, and an award-winning memoir, The Secret Life of A Black Aspie. He has also published critical articles and books on black folklore and proverbs, including Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music and African American Proverbs in Context, and he edited the three-volume set, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. His most recent work focuses on intersections between disability, race, and genderfluid identities, and include two recently completed manuscripts of poems, How Do You Get the Girl Out of the Box, and My Life as a Banned Book. Prahlad is a professor in the English Department, at the University of Missouri, where he is the Director of the Creative Writing Program, and teaches courses in folklore, film, creative writing, and disability studies.
About The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir: In 1954 a black boy is born on a former plantation in rural Virginia. He inhabits a magical inner world where sensory experiences blur together, time disappears, and memory is fluid. Nature offers both solace and adventure. Household objects possess agency and poetry. The spirits of slave children become his best friends. For the first four years of his life, he doesn't speak. Then, slowly, he finds his voice. Delicately navigating a daunting assimilation into the outside world, he evolves into an artist and, eventually, an educator whose extraordinary intellectual, literary and musical gifts emerge through unspoken neurological challenges.
Anand Prahlad’s journey takes readers across the United States and through historic moments in American culture, from the Civil Rights Movement and school desegregation in the South, to hippie enclaves and New Age ashrams in the West, to a Midwestern college town struggling with the racial tensions of its border-state legacy. This imagistic narrative reveals the mind of a deeply sensitive being whose perspective defies convention and whose experiences of autism, race and gender defy definition. Rooted in black folklore and cultural ambience, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie can at moments inspire and delight, evoke empathy, and deepen our understanding of the liminal realms and marginal spaces of human existence.
Julija Šukys is the author of three books (Silence is Death, Epistolophilia, and Siberian Exile), one book-length translation (And I burned with shame), and of more than two dozen essays. An Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Missouri, Šukys is also a Senior Editor at Assay and the Director of the Missouri Audio Project. She spoke to Prahlad in July 2018.
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