Sopan Deb is a writer for the New York Times where he has covered culture and basketball. He is also a New York City–based comedian. Before joining the Times, Deb was one of a handful of reporters who covered Donald Trump’s presidential campaign from start to finish as a campaign embed for CBS News. He covered hundreds of rallies in more than forty states for a year and a half and was named a “breakout media star” of the election by Politico. At the New York Times, Deb has interviewed high-profile subjects such as Denzel Washington, Stephen Colbert, the cast of Arrested Development, Kyrie Irving, and Bill Murray. Deb’s work has previously appeared on NBC, Al Jazeera America, and in the Boston Globe, ranging from examining the trek of endangered manatees to following a class of blind filmmakers in Boston led by the former executive producer of Friends. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for Larger Than Life, a documentary he produced for the Boston Globe, which told the story of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell’s complicated relationship with the city of Boston. He lives in New York City with his fiancée, Wesley.
Meeting the South Asian Parents
Who Raised Me
by Sopan Deb
A bittersweet and humorous memoir of family—of the silence and ignorance that separate us, and the blood and stories that connect us—from an award-winning New York Times writer and comedian.
Approaching his 30th birthday, Sopan Deb had found comfort in his day job as a writer for the New York Times and a practicing comedian. But his stage material highlighting his South Asian culture only served to mask the insecurities borne from his family history. Sure, Deb knew the facts: his parents, both Indian, separately immigrated to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. They were brought together in a volatile and ultimately doomed arranged marriage and raised a family in suburban New Jersey before his father returned to India alone.
But Deb had never learned who his parents were as individuals—their ages, how many siblings they had, what they were like as children, what their favorite movies were. Theirs was an ostensibly nuclear family without any of the familial bonds. Coming of age in a mostly white suburban town, Deb’s alienation led him to seek separation from his family and his culture, longing for the tight-knit home environment of his white friends. His desire wasn’t rooted in racism or oppression; it was born of envy and desire—for white moms who made after-school snacks and asked his friends about the girls they liked and the teachers they didn’t. Deb yearned for the same.
Deb’s experiences as one of the few minorities covering the Trump campaign, and subsequently as a stand up comedian, propelled him on a dramatic journey to India to see his father—the first step in a life altering journey to bridge the emotional distance separating him from those whose DNA he shared. Deb had to learn to connect with this man he recognized yet did not know—and eventually breach the silence separating him from his mother. As it beautifully and poignantly chronicles Deb’s odyssey, Missed Translations raises questions essential to us all: Is it ever too late to pick up the pieces and offer forgiveness? How do we build bridges where there was nothing before—and what happens to us, to our past and our future, if we don’t?
“A delightful memoir of people and place that will draw in Deb’s fans and attract plenty of new ones.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“I was moved by the ways in which Sopan Deb taps into both the darkness and light that permeate a story about love, family, and understanding. He’s a masterful storyteller, and I’m thankful for his bravery and willingness to share the kind of human story that we too often prefer to keep to ourselves.”
-Kal Penn, comedian and actor
“Both moving and hilarious, Missed Translations is not just about exploring culture, family, and love, but about understanding where one comes from in the deepest possible way. It’s a wonderful journey.”
-Jake Tapper, CNN host and author of The Hellfire Club“
“Sopan Deb hilariously and truthfully lets us in on the ups, downs, lefts, and rights of trying to understand – as a standup comedian and a journalist – the two grown-up strangers who raised him. It’s a crazy story, but you know. Good crazy. Funny crazy. Read-this-book crazy.”
-Pete Holmes, comedian, podcast host, and author of Comedy Sex God
“As a man who has both been a performer and covered performance, Sopan Deb now paints his most important picture yet, the self-portrait.”
-Roy Wood Jr., comedian and correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
“A sympathetic portrait of South Asians who are neither crazy and rich nor humorless nerds…Memoirs by children of immigrants often fault clueless parents; this one is refreshing for Deb’s realization that—whatever his elders’ missteps—he needed “to take some responsibility for my part in our family’s disconnect” for things to change.”
“While his topic is serious, Deb’s writing is breezy and witty, and his earnestness will sweep readers up into this charmer of a memoir.”
Publisher: Folio Books
Publishing Date: December 31, 2020
Anniqua Rana lives in California with her husband and two sons. When she’s not working as an educator in the community college system, she visits her family in Pakistan and England. The rest of the time, she reads, cooks, travels, and enjoys mystical music and poetry and does whatever it takes to keep her grounded and happy. Wild Boar in the Cane Field is her debut novel.
Romila Thappar is Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has been General President of the Indian History Congress. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and holds honorary doctorates from Universities of Calcutta, Oxford and Chicago, among others. She is an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and SOAS, London. In 2008 she was awarded the prestigious Kluge Prize of the Library of Congress, USA.
Fahmida Riaz was a progressive Pakistani Urdu poet, writer, and translator. Born in 1946 in Meerut and educated in Hyderabad (Sindh) and London, she was a prominent voice in the feminist struggle in Pakistan. During the Zia era, she was charged with sedition and forced to go into exile. She is the author of many collections of poetry. Three volumes of her novels and collection of short stories, apart from the Urdu translation of selected verses from Shaikh Ayaz and the Iranian poet, Farough Farrakhzad have also been published. She also translated in rhyme a selection of ghazals from Divan-e-Shams Tabriz into Urdu, titled Khaan-e-aab-o-gil. She died on November 21, 2018 after battling a long illness.
Niloufer Siddiqui is an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York in the Department of Political Science. Niloufer completed her PhD in Political Science at Yale University in 2017. Her book project examines why political parties engage in violence and the variation in violence strategies that they employ. Other research interests include political behavior, the politics of religion and ethnicity, electoral dynamics in developing or transitioning democracies, and voters and foreign policy. Siddiqui previously worked at the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Islamabad and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York. She has an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a BA in English from Haverford College.