Priyanka Champaneri

Priyanka Champaneri

Photo by Lauren Brennan


Priyanka Champaneri's debut novel The City of Good Death won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, longlisted for India's Tata Literature Live! First Book Award, and named one of NPR's 2021 Books We Love. Her writing has appeared in Astra, Electric Lit, Hindu Business Line, Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, and more. She received her MFA from George Mason University and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts numerous times.

Every year on the day after Diwali, the official start of the new Hindu year, my mother has told me to write. In the years I've felt ambivalent, she's told me to write; when I've been discouraged and rejected, she tells me to write; when I want to do anything but writing, she continues to nudge: “This day sets your intention for the year. Even if it's just one sentence, write.”

This year was to be no different—except for a phone call I received Diwali evening, during which I learned from Amy Stolls that I'd be joining the 2024 class of National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellows.

I have long known I needed writing, but I have not always been so sure that writing needed me. I am deeply grateful for the financial support, which will allow me to research, dream, and create new work during this upcoming year. But being told that I'm part of this new class of honored writers—that, in essence, I belong—is something that will stay with me for far longer. It's another voice at my shoulder, gently goading me, reminding me that, yes: I should write. Write today, write tomorrow—write for as long as I am able, an intention set not only for this year, but for my life.