Pankaj Challa Reads at The Mount

Pankaj Challa

Pankaj Challa

(LENOX, Mass.) – Author Pankaj Challa will read from his work at The Mount on Sunday, December 13, at 3pm. Challa has been working on a novel and a collection of short stories at The Mount as this fall’s Stone Court Writer-in-Residence.

Challa’s new work is based on his dissertation, called “The Happiness of Wandering Beings,” about love, livelihood and identity in the New India. Steven Barthelme, author of “Hush, Hush: Stories,” says, “Pankaj Challa’s stories have a Chekhovian simplicity; that is, a simplicity, like that of all great fiction, which grows more and more complex the more you stare at it, until you become unsure about, well, practically everything you thought you knew.”

Challa was born and raised in India, obtained a degree in electrical engineering, and then entered the creative writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned his PhD. “Some Americans come to India to find themselves,” Challa said, “And some Indians come to America for the economic opportunity, but I came to find myself creatively.”
Challa also has an MFA from the University of Miami, where he was a James Michener Fellow. His fiction has appeared in journals such as Crazyhorse, Saint Ann’s Review and Rosebud. His nonfiction and screenplays have appeared in Grassroots Writing Research Journal and Millennium. Challa has served as a guest fiction editor for Crazyhorse, and is the recipient of several other writing fellowships.

“Pankaj Challa’s writing stood out,” David McCarthy, chairman of the Stone Court writer selection committee, noted. “It was beautifully written and reflects a maturity that impressed us all. He’s a wonderful new voice in our community.”

Stephen Sagarin, faculty chair at the Waldorf High School, said, “Pankaj Challa and the Stone Court residency allow our students to see beyond their lives in the Berkshires, get to know the minds and voices of those from different parts of our country and the world, and improve their skill in creative writing.”

Now in its second year, the Stone Court Writer-In-Residence program, co-sponsored by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Berkshire Waldorf High School, offers two 12-week residencies each year, beginning September and February. The program provides time, freedom and support for emerging writers to concentrate on creative work, with a focus on bringing diverse American voices, particularly those from other regions of the United States, to the Berkshires. The program also builds in time for the visiting writer to lead a creative writing “master class” at the Berkshire Waldorf High School and offer community readings of his or her work.

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