Mary Tremonte and Shaun Slifer collaborated on this risograph print design, originally as a bookplate for Neema Avashia’s new book Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place.
When Neema Avashia tells people where she’s from, their response is nearly always a disbelieving, “There are Indian people in West Virginia?” A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia fits few Appalachian stereotypes. But the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality, continue to inform the way she moves through the world today: how she loves, how she teaches, how she advocates, how she struggles.
Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer, desi, Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture, and more, Another Appalachia mixes nostalgia and humor, sadness and sweetness, personal reflection and universal questions.
This print depicts honeysuckle and Arabian jasmine, each plant resonating with Neema in thinking about home: both in rural West Virginia, and her parents’ childhood home of Gujarat, India. She recalls her mother’s unsuccessful attempts to grow Arabian jasmine in their West Virginia garden, and that the smells of both flowers remind her of home. Like her book, this print celebrates the complexities of identity and place.
Another Appalachia is available from West Virginia University Press.