‘A roll of the dice, a story of loss, love and genetics’ (Linen Press, UK)

Out now! You can order on Amazon.

Read an excerpt at : MeharaLit.

Praise for A Roll of the Dice:

‘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)

Reviews

Excerpt : 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.

A Roll Of The Dice is a recollection of a ten-year journey by Mona into the world of genetic medicine starting from the beautiful plains of India, to the bustling city of London with myriads of fear, loss, grief, anger, love and patience which culminates into a test of faith and motherhood.

Told from the author’s point of view, the opening section lurches the reader straight into a tale of trepidation and auras of death. It explicitly narrates the life of an Indian woman, in this case, Mona, which revolves around a budding career and a blissful marriage until she decides to add a baby to her schedule and life humbles her with a child with SCID, a rare genetic disorder characterized by disturbed development of T and B cells. The outcome of this episode plunges her into a tunnel of protracted fear of conception, the possibility of having an XY child and the urgent need to flee a homeland that then, was no place for a mother who is a threat to her own progeny.

Thematically, the book explores medicine to a greater extent, then migration, family love, support, beliefs and travel. It evokes bouts of bittersweet emotions in no particular order like the aftermath of having little innocents that come with pains, the joy of having dual citizenship, the relief found in family and friendship and the assurance that comes with spiritual devotion.

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.

Some medical jargon such as CVS, bubble babies, SCID, deepest pool, PPROM stuck with me. Some lines like ‘a movie style fainting fit…,’ ‘around you the entire world is producing babies…,’ made me smile. Visiting of temples and lighting of candles in Notre Dame, made me wonder how far desperation can take one; and towards the end, I wished I could read more about Mister Smith and Dr. Thomas.

I wouldn’t stop at recommending this book to women battling with infertility, mothers of SCID children or those battling other genetic disorders but also to everyone because there are things we can’t ignore: the truth about the universe, inadequate health facilities in most countries, the need to acknowledge peoples’ pains and be grateful for one thing, being normal.

By Akuchidinma Raymonda M., Nigerian fiction writer and current Senior Editor, Media and Creative Director at MeharaLit.

Mona Dash’s debut memoir, A Roll of the Dice, is an odyssey of an invincible mother who, despite her best efforts, loses her firstborn son diagnosed with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency). The etiology of this disease is perhaps not known yet, and, therefore, the treatment is not possible in India’s underdeveloped medical system. The death of her son proves to be a cornerstone of a decisive change in her life and perhaps the genesis of this book. Knowing that if she bears a child again, her next child may well be inflicted with the same disease, her intense desire to be prepared leads her to London, where she procures a job and makes a new home.

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.

Divided into six sections with an introduction by Bobby Gasper, a professor of pediatrics and immunology, the book describes SCID in a meticulous fashion. At some instances, the memoir reads like a drab manual of medical science dealing with diseases and prognoses. However, the simple narrative tapestry of the book is spun around the medical terms sprinkled throughout its pages. As a hawk-eyed observer, Dash captures her surroundings with detailed description as well as the moments of her emotional stasis that situate the reader in the poignant world she creates.

The book’s evocative vignettes carry soul-stirring descriptions of the visceral emotions of a mother for her child. As she unspools her own personal experiences, however, she articulates a woman’s crystallized determination to struggle through the precariousness of life.

By Mohammad Farhan, Aligarh Muslim University, in World Literature Today.


Three poems translated into Chinese and published in The World Poets Quarterly February Volume 93, Feb 2019

A certain way (and other two poems)

As an immigrant,
I am expected to behave in a way
a certain way.

Colour the walls with turmeric,
fill my soul with lament
for the land whose shores I have left
to become richer economically
poorer emotionally.
Fold oil into long black hair,
dream the stars of the eastern skies,
in this land, the land I call my own,
but never to be my own.
Wrapped in sarees, sapphire blue, sindoor red,
meant to be nostalgic about the
monsoon spray dazzling my eyes
calming my burning skin.

Instead, my mind
soothed by the nourishing cool green
of the land I live in,
energised by the glowing orange sun
of the land I come from,
decorates ice cubes with spice.

With silver anklets, red stilettoes,
the shortest, blackest dress,
I sip prosecco, spear olives expertly,
pile plates with rice and chicken curry
while in the garden
lavender, jasmine, clematis, and marigold,
spread their roots, dance their petals
into the pale grey wet skies
and the searing sunshine.

Uproot, grow, take root
parallel truths, a little of this,
a little of that.
For an immigrant,
there is no certain way to be.

 

In Chinese:

特定的方式(外二首)

作为一个移民人
我希望举止得体
用些特定的方式

用姜黄涂染皮囊
用哀歌填满灵魂
为了离别的大陆
在经济上更富裕
情感却更加贫瘠
发油抹进黑发里
想着东方的星空
在这片谓之大地
虽然并非我所有
裹挟着宝石蓝红
这也就是乡愁吧
印度洋的季风啊

令我眼花缭乱啊
抚平灼热的皮肤

我的心恰恰相反
需要绿色的滋养
在居住的大陆上
被橙色太阳照亮
我所来自的土地
用香料点缀冰块

银脚镯红高跟鞋
着超短超青衣裳
嘬一口普洛赛克
饮食鲜嫩的橄榄
盘盘咖喱鸡肉饭
花园里的薰衣草
茉莉女萎万寿菊
枝蔓交错舞蹈着
向着灰潮的天空
向着灼热的阳光

拔节生长也生根
一样的真理一样
一点一点都一样
对于移民们来说
没有特定的方式


‘May We Borrow Your Country’ launched in Waterstones Gower Street on January 26th

May We Borrow Your Country is a contemporary collection of stories and poems that looks at dislocation and displacement with sympathy, tolerance and humour. It is peopled by courageous, poignant, eccentric individuals who cross borders, accommodate to new cultures and try to establish an identity in a new place. In the process, they encounter different versions of themselves, like reflections in a room of trick mirrors.

May We Borrow Your Country was launched in Waterstones Gower Street on the 26th of January 2019. More than a hundred tickets were sold, and bookings were actually stopped a couple of days before the event. Joining The Whole Kahani, on the panel were Lynn Michell, publisher, Linen Press, and Preti Taneja, author of We That Are Young. Preti has written the foreword to May We Borrow Your Country and had interesting questions for the writers. Lynn had her own questions, and it was an interactive audience who listened, asked questions, and cheered us. Rosie Beaumont-Thomas, the events manager concluded the event by mentioning Waterstones Gower Street will have to try hard to match the fantastic evening and huge turnout.


Poetry on the walls of the library of the English faculty in University of Cambridge

Nostalgic Rain

An almost tropical rain arrives
I watch from the window.
Quiet roads, quieter cars.
The almost tropical rain
adorns the hanging planters.
Colourful flowers, petunias, azaleas, fuchsias
but fragrance less,
so the rain awakens nothing, hidden.
There’s even a hint of hailstones in today’s rain.

But, to be truly tropical you
need to emerge from the hunger of heat
the acridity of drought.
You need to rise deep from ponds brimming with lotuses
form clouds that spray down at will, lustily.
An almost tropical thunder today.

But to be truly tropical you
need to have been conceived in despair
spawned in hunger.
You need to have it in your belly.

The rain beats down today
my silence
it is not the same.


MonaDash
MonaDash1 week ago
Poems in Sarasvati 057
MonaDash
MonaDash1 month ago
Two poems in The Bombay Review, April,2020

https://thebombayreview.com/mona-dash-death-unknown-the-healing/
MonaDash
MonaDash2 months ago
'A Roll Of The Dice', by Mona Dash, is 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.

YOU, the public, are the judges - YOU pick the winners of The People's Book Prize! Go to https://peoplesbookprize.com/2019-2020-finalists/ to vote for your favourite books in the Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children's Literature categories.

Due to the 2020 Award Ceremony being postponed until further notice because of the coronavirus crisis, voting has been extended to the 30th of May.
MonaDash
MonaDash4 months ago
Enjoyed this review of A Certain Way by Frank Watson, an American poet who writes beautiful micro-poetry..

A Certain Way is a lovely book of poems, filled with the meditations of a woman who has found a new life and new home in England. It starts off reflecting on an immigrant’s story, from the feeling of not belonging to the feeling that this new land is home and an appreciation for what it has to offer. From this perspective, she contrasts with the experience of other immigrants, including those who long nostalgically for home, though they made the choice to find a new home, perhaps for reasons they’ve forgotten.

After several of poems along this them, the book branches out into a full variety of poems on the experience of a woman in modern life, from the hardships to the unfulfilled longings, from balancing life and work to the joys of motherhood, and to the desire for love and romance. There is a sense of spirituality, sorrow, and tragedy mixed in. And a recurring theme of spices, turmeric, and sarees.

To give a flavor of the book, I’ll quote a few favorite passages:

From “The Immigrant’s Song”—

When it rains here,
in this country, with its dark earth,
rainbow gardens,
sometimes the flecks of rain
touch the earth just like in the dusty Indian plains.

From “Destiny”—

Not knowing that
a one legged man walked on graves,
ghosts cackled in trees,
white geese turn red,
on the day I was born.

It was a pleasure to read. My favorite poems are below:

A Certain Way
Διασπορά (Diaspora)
The Immigrant’s Song
Destiny
Nowhere to Go
The Punishment
The Glass Jar
His Gift
In Search of Balance
MonaDash
MonaDash4 months ago
The not to be missed offer ! You can download the e-book of May We Borrow your Country by us at The Whole Kahani at 1.99 gbp at this link:
It’s only for a week !
https://www.linen-press.com/shop/may-we-borrow-your-country/
MonaDash
MonaDash7 months ago
My dear Facebook friends - I need your help ! My publisher has put up - A Roll of the Dice- for an award called People’s Choice Book awards. It is decided by popular votes.

I need votes therefore !

Please please vote and spread the word in your circles ! It takes a few seconds and is free! Feel free to leave a comment on the site also.

If you haven’t read the book, there’s review and excerpts on there ... but you don’t need to read it to vote 🙂

https://peoplesbookprize.com/winter-2019/a-roll-of-the-dice-a-story-of-loss-love-and-genetics/
4 days ago
Mad about history, love to read? Join us at the very first South Asian Literary Festival! @writerkavita & @CauveryMadhavan look at writing history in fiction, the process of researching & tackling the notion of authenticity & time in fiction. RT please!!
https://t.co/LGfEkbvuDg
4 days ago
Do join in on Saturday 3.30 TO 4.30 pm when I will be discussing the art of short stories with @jennybhatt and @sayan10e . The event is a part of the South Asian Literary Festival @SAsianLitFest. The free eventbrite link is https://t.co/lZ9M3rEOAo https://t.co/0zhXID8DV3 Dash2Mona photo
3 weeks ago
My piece in this month’s ⁦ @TheAtlantic⁩: “It was game over for my sort of person in India. We had been so blithe, so unknowing, so insulated from a wider Indian reality that it was as if we had prepared the conditions for our own destruction” https://t.co/AkG9W5JLd2
4 weeks ago
Happy birthday ! #ARolloftheDice ! https://t.co/KhjGf2BCXI
Dash2Mona photo
Linen Press @LinenPressBooks
To celebrate This books first birthday, we are offering a discount for the whole of May, alongside our free postage!! Go check it out! @Dash2Mona https://t.co/xNaFUYBfrc
1 month ago
So happy as my son Krish Misra is part of this collaboration! Quite early on in the video - https://t.co/AoNGaknzz0
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