In an intimate series of letters addressed to his eldest daughter, Nikesh Shukla (editor of The Good Immigrant) reflects on the joyful chaos and wonder of fatherhood, while grappling with the grief of losing his mother. Alongside memories from his own childhood, Shukla confronts his deep fear of the world in which his mixed-raced daughters will grow up. He reflects on how he can best prepare them to navigate issues of race and gender, wryly observing how his four-year-old is already being shaped by these factors.
Even better is an extraordinary chapter, originally published as a novella, in which Shukla evokes his mother through the food she used to cook. The sizzle of mustard seeds and cumin in her kitchen, the way she cut potatoes, the misspelled shopping lists she compiled: it’s all exquisitely recalled. After her death, he finds some unused containers in the freezer and decides to cook their contents. In his telling, the microwave unlocks smells, creating not so much a portal to the past as a fleeting, pungent communion. It’s wonderful piece of writing, a wonderful gift to his daughters.