Books·Canadian

This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart

This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart is a book by Madhur Anand.

Madhur Anand

(Strange Light)

An experimental memoir about 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 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, chanting Hey 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 are drawn together, moving to Canada and raising their children in mining towns, on Indigenous reservations, in crowded city apartments. And when we turn the book over, we find the daughter's tale—we see how the rupture of Partition, the asymmetry of a father's leg, the virus of a mother's rage, makes its 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. (From Strange Light)

This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Madhur Anand is a poet and professor of ecology at the University of Guelph. She is also the author of the poetry collection New Index for Predicting Catastrophes.

Why Madhur Anand wrote This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart

"The idea for this book morphed from a desire to simply record the oral histories of stories that my parents have been telling me all their lives. I wanted to get down not just those stories I've heard over and over again, but I was also filling them in with the context of places and what those places were actually like.

I do remember the absurdity of one day of realizing that I didn't know where their original birth places were.

"I wanted to hear more details of their lives. I wanted to understand my parents better. I do remember the absurdity of one day of realizing that I didn't know where their original birth places were.

"I knew where they grew up because I've visited those places. But their original birth places are in what's now Pakistan. Their original birth places are in pre-Partition India. We have no links to those places anymore. I didn't even know where they were. But my parents remember them."

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

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