HITTING SHELVES #47: The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The Windfall by Diksha Basu comes out today! It’s a hilarious and wise debut novel about a family discovering the precariousness of social status and what it means to “make it” in modern India. You’ll love it. We asked the author how she’s celebrating her book’s release.

I have an eight-week old baby and did you know that an adult brain requires five hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to function but newborns need to feed every three hours? Why is evolution failing us? When I found out I was going to have a baby exactly two months before my book hit shelves, my husband and I said we had either timed it all really well or really badly. I’m happy to report it turns out we timed it all pretty well. Having essentially two babies out in the world helps keep all my anxiety in check because I’m always distracted and exhausted.

Today, like most days since my daughter was born, the first half of the day will go by in a blur and it will be mid-afternoon before I realize what day it is and descend into panic. Then I plan to go to the Strand with my husband and daughter and lurk around the shelves looking for my book and trying to play it cool while sneaking selfies in front of the book. But it’ll be hard to play it too cool because my husband made a onesie with The Windfall cover on it for our daughter and how can I resist putting her in it today? So, sorry, fellow shoppers at the Strand, sorry for being annoying; please buy my book anyway.

Then we plan on sitting outdoors and having oysters and champagne to celebrate in the most clichéd way possible. I love a good cliché at times. By this point I suspect my anxiety will start making its presence felt – it tends to arrive around dusk and settles in for the night so we’ll probably head home to Brooklyn to have a quiet evening by ourselves. (I have, of course, preordered my own book for the thrill of checking the mail that evening.)

Our schedule is currently dictated by our daughter so if she’s up for it, we’ll take a stroll in McCarren Park and I’ll marvel at how my life has changed over the past year and especially the past decade. Ten years ago I was living in Mumbai and trying to make it as an actress. I hadn’t been cast in anything significant as yet, I hadn’t met my husband, or discovered my love of writing, or thought I’d ever want a child. I was happy then as well – I was barely in my twenties and life was fun and fun was all I wanted. But now, tonight in McCarren Park, I’ll be aware that I suddenly have the kind of happiness that comes with fear because there’s so much to lose. The happiness in my twenties was based on the bliss of having nothing to lose. But here we are now. And with that, my anxiety will settle in and my happiness will get tinged with fear and sadness and the universe will balance everything out in the cruel and magnificent way that it does.

I seem like a real downer. But happiness often goes hand in hand with anxiety for me and I’ve come to cherish both.

After all, at the end of today, like every day, I get to go home and put my baby to bed and have a glass of wine with my handsome husband and look at the selfies I took earlier in the day and I’ll allow myself to be calm and to be happy and to not be afraid. Even if I don’t manage, even if I remain afraid, at least my book is on shelves and tomorrow morning I get to wake up and feed the baby and change dirty diapers and get back to my laptop to continue working on my next book because when they say this too shall pass, they mean both the bad and the good.

And then on the night of Thursday, June 29, I’ll be at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn to officially launch my book. I’ll be in conversation with author Sara Novic and I hope, dear reader, you will join us.

Diksha Basu is a writer and occasional actor. Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and now divides her time between New York City and Mumbai.

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