The Second Half of the Forth (2022). This is a story about crossing into the second part of one’s life. Identity, self-concept, and midlife tendencies to evaluate one’s ‘so far, how am I doing?’ and cope with the distress that may arise as a result of realizing that, after all, you may not ever get to fulfill all your life goals. It’s a story of what it feels like to get through that foggy place and come out comfortably, if you are lucky, and be one of those cool people who ages ‘with grace’ and smiles without bitterness. ‘How few of them, there are, don’t you think?,’ asks author Dipika Kohli. ‘Let’s explore what it takes to get to contentment, and relax, there.’
Solitude (2021). This is the story of what it feels like to be in between worlds, and learn how to segue. The collectivist culture and society of Vietnam, where the author was ‘stuck’ for a period of twenty months during the time of covid’s outbreak and border closures that made leaving very, very difficult, and the individualistic culture of the United States of America which is where the author grew up, come into a clash that you really have to sit with. For a while. Making space for solitude isn’t easy to do. What if you were forced to be alone for more than a year and a half? Who might you become, at the end of that process? These are the questions explored in a long narration that sounds like someone who is talking to herself. Because, largely, she was.
Reality & Trust (2021). Another take on the feelings related to being ‘stuck’ in Vietnam. This is a short collection that follows the story of Solitude. It is essays in the frank, direct writing style of all of Kismuth books, and centers on the concept of wondering and waiting, but also, questioning what those things are, and what they mean, when you don’t even know what ‘reality’ has become and if you are the kind of person who has a tough time believing people when they say, ‘Just trust me.’ Should you? Why or why not? This short collection asks those questions.
End of the Rainbow (2020). What happens when you have time and space to reflect on long chapters, behind you? When there are things that emerge from the deep past that you wish had stayed in those times but won’t, and can’t? There are moments when we have to simply face our fears. These can take on many forms, and show up at any number of instances. How we manage to deal with what comes up for us, when those things do surface, is the work of solving our own emotional health and setting us up for real healing.
Breakfast in Cambodia (2016). This book is a compilation of many small stories that I had written for the Northwest Asian Weekly in Seattle as a column, that was called ‘It Takes a Village.’ It also includes more short chapters, and illustrations in line art, too. The book was launched 2016 in Phnom Penh to a small set of people in a live reading in a courtyard, and became a discussion point for many who, like the author, were looking for a routine and sense of comfort from that, in the otherwise flux and shift of life in a new land.
Kismuth Book I: Kanishka (2015). This book is the heart of the Kismuth series. It chronicles the feelings and emotions of what took place in 1985 when an airplane whose name was Kanishka was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, taking the lives of all on board including many children. A 10-year-old on board was the best friend fo the author, who had gone to Amritsar to seek some answer to her lifelong question, ‘Why?’ This book was possible to complete due to the generous support of the writers’ residency at Preetnagar. Special thanks to Poonam Singh for inviting Kismuth, there. The book was published as a serial in the magazine run by Singh, in Chandigarh, too.
The Mirror: An anthology with guests of The Cojournal Project (2014). A gem from the series of Kismuth is this short story collection. It was created by selecting pieces that several of the guests of a collaborative writing project, The Cojournal, had created and that Kismuth then edited and compiled into a short PDF. Of note is Anne Hamilton‘s piece, ‘Epilogue for a Year’. This book is available as a free gift for anyone who asks me for information about my ‘Mirror’ eWorkshop. You can get weekly reflection prompts. Find out more about at the newsletter signup page.
Kismuth Book III: The Dive (2012). What do you do if the baby growing within your body, loved and nourished to your best ability, has a genetic defect? This is the true story of a mother-to-be’s very painful decision. It was recognized on the website of a birthing facility in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as a suggested reading piece, and also listed at A Heartbreaking Choice, a website for parents-to-be making anguishing, complicated choices.
Kismuth Book II: The Elopement (2012) This is the story that is one many young people ask. ‘How much is too much to trade for a promise of love?’ Listen to a live interview on NPR.