Story Behind the Story

Episode 13: Alka Joshi - THE HENNA ARTIST

March 6th, 2020

Alka Joshi had a complicated relationship to her Indian heritage as a young girl. After immigrating from Rajasthan to the American midwest when she was 9, she was frequently bullied because of her race. It wasn't until she started writing The Henna Artist as an adult that she began to reclaim her cultural heritage.

In our conversation, Joshi tells me that writing The Henna Artist allowed her to imagine a different kind of life for her mother, who entered into an arranged marriage at the age of 18. It also gave her an opportunity to explore India, Indian culture, and Indian socioeconomic politics in a deeply personal way.

ALKA JOSHI is a graduate of Stanford University and received her M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant, and an illustrator. The Henna Artist is her first novel.