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.
A Roll Of The Dice was a Non-Fiction finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2020! Mona Dash writes about her 10-year roller-coaster journey from India to England, after her first child is diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). A story of loss, love, and hope in the face of genetic roulette – told with astounding courage and humour.
Read here for reviews of A Roll of the Dice and for details of where to purchase the book.
When did you know you had a story in you that you wanted to share?
Many years ago, when my baby boy became ill, and the word SCID entered my life, I thought, one day, I would write about it to increase awareness about this rare and fatal condition. I was however conscious that I needed to write it with a lot of care and integrity. It couldn’t be a hasty Facebook post or similar! Over the years, so much happened, which I won’t tell you here because it will give away the story but I remember, when my son was born in London, one friend said, ‘This story has all the trappings of a bestseller! You should write it.’
Even then, I hadn’t planned on writing a memoir because I’m a fiction writer and there are so many imaginary characters who want to be written about. It was only years later, as part of my course work for my Masters in Creative Writing, I wrote a short piece of life writing. I intended to send it to a journal, so was struggling to keep it within a word limit. But when we workshopped it, my tutor and classmates were insistent about me writing a full length memoir. ‘But why would anyone want to read a book about me?’ I remember asking. It was my friend, Alan Devey, another author, who replied, ‘Mona, let us be the judge of what we want to read.’ That was the point when I felt convinced that I had a story to share, and a book to write.
Read the full interview in The Asian Writer.
I am a writer of fiction and poetry. When I decided to write this as a memoir, and therefore a true story, there were questions, especially from family. Was it a good idea to bare so much of my personal life? Why not fictionalise it, invent characters, embellish the story?
There were two reasons I didn’t. One is that, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Critics would perhaps dismiss my story as improbable and unlikely to happen to one person! And the second, more pressing reason is that I really hope that this memoir – the only one written about SCID and other rare conditions such as PPROM – helps increase awareness of these medical conditions. I hope it makes someone else feel a little less alone. I hope it stresses the importance of new born screening for conditions such as SCID which, as of 2019, is mandatory in all states of America, but not yet in the UK where a pilot scheme is to be introduced this year. Professor Bobby Gaspar, who wrote the Introduction for this book, is leading a nation-wide trial for SCID screening.
Read more at BooksbyWomen.org.