Spotlight on “A Thousand Times Before” by Asha Thanki

by LitStack Editor

A heartrending family saga following three generations of women who inherit the experiences of those that lived A Thousand Times Before.

A Thousand Times Before and author Asha Thanki

About A Thousand Times Before

Sweeping readers from Partition-era India to modern day Brooklyn.

Ayukta is finally sitting down with her wife Nadya to respond to a question she’s long avoided: Should they have a child? The decision is complicated by a secret her family has kept for centuries, one that Ayukta will be the first to share with someone outside their bloodline: the women in her family inherit a mysterious tapestry, through which each generation can experience the memories of those who came before her.

Ayukta invites Nadya into this lineage, carrying her through its past. She relives her grandmother Amla’s life: Once a happy child in Karachi, Amla migrates to Gujarat during Partition, witnessing violence and loss that forever shape her approach to marriage and motherhood. Amla’s daughter, Arni, bears this weight in her own blood in 1974, when gender equity and urban class distinctions divide the community as a bold student movement takes hold. As Ayukta unspools these generations of women—whole decades of love, loss, heartbreak, and revival—she reveals the tapestry’s second gift: the ability for each of these women to dramatically reshape their own worlds. Like all power, both fantastic and societal, this inheritance is more treacherous than it seems.

What would it mean, to impart an impossible burden? To withhold these incredible gifts?

Sweeping, deeply felt and intergenerational, A Thousand Times Before is a debut as poetic as it is propulsive, as healing as it is heartbreaking, as it examines what it means to carry our past with us and to pass it on. Rooted in a tender love story, and spun with a tremendous amount of care, this book is a rare, remarkable feat from an incredible new literary talent.

Source: Publisher
ISBN-13: 9780593654644
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/09/2024

Praise for A Thousand Times Before

“Spanning three generations, Asha Thanki’s captivating debut explores the legacies mothers pass on to their daughters–and the complicated responsibilities that accompany them. A Thousand Times Before is a rich family saga about art and memory’s power to inform the present, make peace with the past, and maybe even alter the future.”—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Our Missing Hearts

“In expertly crafted prose, Thanki reinvents generational memory, conjuring inheritance as a tapestry of love, trauma, and choices that echo through blood. The memories within wormed their way under my skin and made me reflect about the collective of past lives that reside within all of us. A profoundly tender and complex debut that I didn’t want to put down.”—Sequoia Nagamatsu, bestselling author of How High We Go in the Dark

“With tender lyricism, A Thousand Times Before takes us on a profound and intricately woven journey of matrilineal inheritance. What do we gain and lose when the past and present intertwine, and the future can be written, and how do live with the life, love, and regrets of all those who came before? A story of fate, and the remaking of destiny, as the larger forces of history try, but fail to break the brave women in Asha Thanki’s story.”—Vanessa Chan, author of international bestseller The Storm We Made

“[A] powerful debut novel…Thanki’s narrative brims with sensory detail: the flavors of mithai (sweets) in Amla’s father’s shop; the taste of chaash (buttermilk); the vivid colors of saris and dupattas worn by women and girls. Thanki also writes evocatively of Amla’s loneliness, her longing for Fiza, and the difficulty of bridging the gap caused by distance and new experiences. Evocative, sweeping, and intimate, A Thousand Times Before explores Indian politics, the different ways to love a person, and the complexities of family: what we inherit, what we build for ourselves, and what we choose to keep.”—Shelf Awareness

“A Thousand Times Before marks the arrival of a major new author. Thanki weaves a passionate portrayal of the stories mothers pass down through generations as well as the power of story to change our futures. This beautifully written generational epic features compelling characters, a propulsive plot, and readers will be reluctant to leave these women behind.”—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of The American Daughters and The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You

“In a debut as powerful as it is tender, Asha Thanki sculpts an unforgettable story of art, love, family, and home. A Thousand Times Before offers a luminous vision of history, one you’ll want to return to again and again. Follow this book’s brave generations of heroines wrestling with fate and politics, and you’ll appreciate not only the power of Thanki’s imagination, but also the possibilities of your own.”—V. V. Ganeshananthan, author of Brotherless Night

“Asha Thanki’s A Thousand Times Before is a tremendous debut with deeply interesting characters. It’s a rare book that can delve so deeply and honestly into the complicated layers of love, power, motherhood, and obligation and still leave readers with a sense of optimism and hope. Beautiful!”—Megan Giddings, author of The Women Could Fly

About Asha Thanki, Author of A Thousand Times Before

A Thousand Times Before
Photo by Serena Seshadri

Asha Thanki is an essayist and fiction writer, Asha’s work has appeared in The Southern Review, Platypus Press’ wildness, The Common, Catapult, Hyphen, and more. She is a Kundiman fellow and has received support through scholarships and grants from Sewanee Writers Conference, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Speculative Literature Foundation. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. A Thousand Times Before is her debut novel.

You can find and follow Asha on her website, and on Instagram and X.

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