Mona is the winner of the Eyelands Book Award 2020 in the Memoir / Historical fiction category for A Roll of the Dice.
What the judges said :
‘This is a story of loss, love and genetics, as Mona Dash, the author, indicates with her subtitle and indeed each one of these themes plays a key part in this very sensitive memoir about the adventure of a mother whose newborn baby’s life is in danger. But this is just the beginning of an astonishing narrative of a contemporary life drama. Perfectly written in an unadorned, powerfully subtle style, demonstrating a deep knowledge of human – and especially female – nature, without superfluous outbursts and therefore even more stunning. A Roll of the Dice is at the same time touching and riveting from cover to cover.’
UK : I have read this book, a few times. Each time, I could feel the tears well up in my eyes and hope filling my heart. Did you think that A Roll of the Dice would affect emotional healing?
MD: Thank you, that’s so gratifying to know! I hadn’t thought of it as helping anyone else heal. I think, for me it had been about sharing information, giving hope to anyone fighting and trying to overcome the odds. It was all about a struggle.
When one faces a terrible loss, everyone says time heals, and though it is such a cliché; time does dull the sharp edge of pain. But healing comes only when you face the intense pain and then transgress it. Healing is soothing, subtle! So, I am really touched when someone says they found the book healing. For a writer, this is the greatest gift!
UK: I am really inspired by the epilogue – the reflections on faith. What made you include this epilogue?
After going through this veritable rollercoaster of a journey, I wanted to end on a note of calmness and stillness. I wanted to highlight my own learnings, but not in a preachy dos and don’ts manner. I felt this was the best way to write it, and the publisher had commented that ‘it read like a prayer.’ It is also a reminder to myself, that things may not always be ideal, but it is important to remember that ‘light enters through the chinks, to know that your life has to go through the struggle it has chosen.
Finalist Eastern Eye Awards for Literature 2020
Finalist People’s Book Prize 2020 (Non-Fiction)
Winner Eyelands Book Award 2020 (Memoir)
Read an excerpt at : MeharaLit.
Praise for A Roll of the Dice:
‘This is a story of loss, love and genetics, as Mona Dash, the author, indicates with her subtitle and indeed each one of these themes plays a key part in this very sensitive memoir about the adventure of a mother whose newborn baby’s life is in danger. But this is just the beginning of an astonishing narrative of a contemporary life drama. Perfectly written in an unadorned, powerfully subtle style, demonstrating a deep knowledge of human – and especially female – nature, without superfluous outbursts and therefore even more stunning. A Roll of the Dice is at the same time touching and riveting from cover to cover.’ Judges, Eyelands Book Awards 2020
‘Mona Dash’s A Roll of the Dice is aptly subtitled ‘a story of loss, love and genetics’. Her story spanning ten years records in extraordinary detail, both medical and personal, Mona’s long and arduous journey to motherhood, reminding us that children do not always come as naturally as leaves to a tree. With an introduction by Professor Bobby Gaspar of Great Ormond Street Hospital, a pioneer in gene therapy, the details of SCID (Severe Combined Immuno-Deficiency) meticulously recorded is a must-read for anyone facing a similar set of challenges. A memoir with a beating heart, the book makes a vital contribution to literature in the field.’ Shanta Acharya
‘A profoundly moving and uplifting book about the triumphant survival of life against all odds. It’ll go straight into your heart and expand its capacity for feeling. Read it and be changed.’ Neel Mukherjee
‘Powerful, moving, beautifully observed and wonderfully sensitive. It mines the depths and heights of human love and suffering and is perceptive about family dynamics, the weight of trauma and comfort of family support. The steady accretion of detail and emotion are exceptionally skilful; the book creeps up on you and steals your heart. I couldn’t stop reading once I started. I particularly like the observations of daily life in cities –the textured evocation of having to walk and talk, live, love and work in the ‘ordinary’ world –while going through operatic swings of emotion at the same time. Mona Dash is a powerful, important and fearlessly honest new voice – capable of looking the deepest suffering and the greatest joy full in the face.’ Bidisha
‘A writer of rare bravery, putting forward a manifesto against the tropes and delighting in subverting expectations.’ Roopa Farooki
‘A deeply affecting book, touching and beautifully rendered. A powerful read from an exciting new voice.’ Irenosen Okojie
‘A beautiful depiction of heartbreak and resilience. This memoir will open your eyes whilst also filling them with tears.’ Mahsuda Snaith
‘I wrote the Bubble Boy from the innocent and unaware perspective of an 11 year old boy with SCID. And I had an adventure…we all had a fictional adventure. SCID is real, full of heartache, suffering and frustration of search for help and cure. Mona Dash takes us on a journey that I could only imagine. Beautifully written, honestly written. I am a writer of fiction. This is the real thing.’ Stewart Foster (via Twitter)
’I met Mona Dash at the premier of my film The Sky is Pink in London. In a sea of people hugging me she left a strong impression as she sobbed in my arms and said how much she loved the film and how it was almost her own life story. Soon after she mailed me her book A Roll of the Dice. I put off reading it for months. I felt that I know the story of a mother losing a child to SCID through and through and wasn’t inclined to relive it. But I could not forget Mona and when she asked me to read it again I was unable to say no. I picked it up and thought I’d just read the first 20 pages. I was in the middle of writing two scripts of my own and had only kept an hour a day to do any reading. I started the book and the hour turned into two and then three as it was unputdownable! Even though I knew the facts and the emotions of this journey very closely – the book was riveting. I personally devour thrillers and whodunits in my leisure time and this is how this book felt. A suspenseful novel which made me invest deeply in my protagonist and keep going till the nail biting finish as to will they be okay. And ultimately it IS a happy ending and a feel good book. And the journey of the protagonist is inspiring. Mona also has a wonderful writing style. Sometimes stories can be great but the form prosaic. Mona’s prose itself is delicious to read; her way of stringing words and sentences together. I recommend this book highly.’ Shonali Bose, filmmaker, writer
‘The language of this story is for the most part lyrical and even poetic, making it a highly engaging narrative, even as it also includes more technical passages describing medical conditions and procedures. In terms of audience, this memoir might be of particular interest to mothers who are trying to conceive or experiencing issues regarding pregnancy, or health issues of a young child. However, it will at the same time appeal to a much broader audience, as the author addresses how she overcomes obstacles and stresses the importance of persistence in order to achieve one’s dreams. This memoir is not a self-help book, but it is in the best sense inspirational.’ By author America Hart. Read more at the Joao-Roque Literary Journal.
‘The writing style, the vivid description of places, and in-depth presentation of medical practices in this book reflect an uninhibited rendering of a personal experience without half-truths, which leaves nothing to doubt and this, I found remarkable and courageous.’ By Akuchidinma Raymonda M., Nigerian fiction writer and current Senior Editor, Media and Creative Director at MeharaLit. Read more at MeharaLit.
‘A Roll of the Dice is a story of the glorious transformation of a woman; her sense of unassimilable loss and abiding hopes go hand in hand throughout the book. Although the void of her first lost child reverberates so often, her astute circumspection, conjectural observations, and unwavering trust propel her toward becoming a mother again. Dash’s story is emblematic of life’s unpredictability, darting back and forth between sudden delightfulness and creeping despair.’ By Mohammad Farhan, Aligarh Muslim University. Read more in World Literature Today.
”Structured into six sections, each exploring a different challenge and interestingly mapped to a corresponding emotion, A Roll of the Dice is a beautiful story, articulated in an honest, heartfelt manner which hooks the reader. So readers, don’t miss this book, you will love it, you will read it again and again. When your spirits are down, you will learn to believe… there is hope, there is love and there is grace, it is all possible with tremendous will power. Read it and you will never take your children for granted again.” Dr Leena Appicatlaa. Read the whole review in the November issue of Confluence on page 6.
‘A Roll of the Dice is a book that resonates with sadness and joy; altogether an amalgamation of ardent fervor, a mother’s love, and the world’s gentle sway in the direction of good fortune. It is a story of motherhood and resilience and the power of hope. Mona Dash’s memoir narrates her ill-fortune of being a genetic carrier of the Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) virus – a fact she learned the hard way: losing her first born to it.’ Ghada Ibrahim, Jaggery Lit
‘Mona Dash lost her first child, a boy, to a very rare genetic disease passed from mothers to sons, SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency). Spanning ten years we follow her through the horrowing efforts to find out why her healthy at first baby son is fading. Her descriptions of the last hours of her son will impact deeply any caring person. She is wounded when the hospital personnel told her the boy will be buried, not cremated as is customary for those of her faith, Hindus. She was told babies under one are buried. Of course Mona tries to understand what happened. She had very carefully observed proper procedures, all her check ups had been positive. Why was her baby taken? As the memoir opens she learns the problem.’ Mel U, The Reading Life
‘In A Roll of the Dice, Mona Dash explains the consequences of passing on faulty genes to her two sons – and why she has relied continually on her faith and recital of the Hindu Maha Mrutyunjaya mantra [religious chant]. As the book’s subtitle makes clear, hers is “a story of loss, love and genetics”. For good reason, it is commended by two well-known authors. Neel Mukherjee has said, “It’ll go straight to your heart”, while Bidisha calls it “powerful, important and fearlessly honest”’ Amit Roy, Eastern Eye
‘Mona Dash is an author and poet, and mother of two sons affected by SCID. Her first son died tragically at eight months old; her second son was able to have a successful stem cell transplant. Mona shares her personal journey and opinion on why newborn screening for SCID is so important.’ PID UK – Supporting families affected by primary immunodeficiencies
yes, yes, I know we come alone go alone but when we come may it be to the sounds of love
and arms roped in an embrace and when we go, and when we go may there be at least one
person next to us, the one who has loved us for an instant even, or someone who has maybe
one lonely night prodded the moon and broken a bit off for you
no one should have to die alone
but you did, and at that instant, what was happening outside? Were there birds in flight, those
tropical ones that disappear, a stroke of colour in a flash or did a half moon rise or did bats
speak to each other in sonic whispers or did a woman murmur in her lover’s ears not now not
you didn’t have to die alone
and what about the others who knew you, the husband, the friend, the lover, lover turned
friend or friend turned lover, where was he? where was anyone? the mother the father the
sisters who are meant to love, the brothers who are meant to protect, the aunts, the uncles
where were they in their worlds not knowing, not knowing, you were slipping away
you cold and alone
and so we think, we wonder asunder, how did it come to this
did you call the moment or did the moment call you
illicit whispers from worlds away cracking the earth into two?
Read The Healing in The Bombay Review
You do not need to win an award to know you are a phenomenal talent. Writing a book is an achievement. Getting it published is another. Don't lose sight of what's important. I'm certain, it isn't an award. Do your thing. Celebrate small steps with gold stars! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
👋Have you booked your ticket to Platform, a one-day conference for Black & Asian writers?
🗓️Saturday 20th March
⌛️ 10 AM - 5 PM
Pls RT and share widely.
Conference Highlights (a short thread): https://t.co/jv4j8q5dD2