Governor General’s Literary Awards

Book cover for This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves by Madhur Anand

This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves

By Madhur Anand

Strange Light / Penguin Random House Canada

“An innovative, moving account of three generations of a South Asian Canadian family as they negotiate time, history, memory and loss, this book of constant, fleeting juxtapositions is a confluence of the intimate and the objective that blends science, personal narrative and fictional elements to push the non-fiction form into bold new territory. In This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart, Anand challenges the ways we think about memoir and family history.”

—Peer assessment committee: Deni Ellis Béchard, Helen Humphreys, Sally Ito

Synopsis

An experimental memoir about the Partition, immigration and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present.

We begin before the red line is drawn across Punjab, with a man off balance: one in one thousand, the only child in town whose polio leads to partial paralysis. We meet his future wife, on the wrong side of the line, chanting Hai Rams for Gandhiji and choosing education over marriage. On one side of the line that divides this book, we follow them as their homeland splits in two and they come together, moving to Canada and raising their children in mining towns and in crowded city apartments. And when we turn the book over, we find the daughter’s tale: how the rupture of Partition, the asymmetry of a father’s leg, and the virus of a mother's rage made their way to the next generation. Told through the lenses of biology, physics, history and poetry, this is a memoir that defies form and convention to immerse the reader in the feeling of what remains when we’ve heard as much of the truth as our families will allow, and we’re left to search for ourselves among the pieces they’ve carried with them.

Headshot of Madhur Anand

Biography

Madhur Anand is a poet and university professor. She penned the book of poems A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada, 2015) and the experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart (Strange Light / Penguin Random House Canada, 2020), both considered trailblazing in their synthesis of art and science. Anand’s second collection of poems will be published by McClelland & Stewart in Spring 2022. She is a full professor of ecology at the University of Guelph and was appointed the inaugural director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research. Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Madhur Anand now lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Photo: Ian Willms

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