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Meet the South Asia Book Award Winners: Padma Venkatraman


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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs 

South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature presents


Meet the Winners Discussion Series

Join us to celebrate the 2020 South Asia Book Award winners! Through a series of virtual discussions, we will get to know these authors, their award-winning titles, and how these books can be used to learn about and teach about South Asia in our schools, libraries, and homes.

This discussion features Padma Venkatraman, who won the 2020 SABA Book Award for her book The Bridge Home ((Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019). In this book, runaway sisters Viji and Rukku learn the harsh realities of life on the swarming streets of Chennai, India. They find shelter and friendship with Muthi and Arul, two homeless boys living under an abandoned bridge. Forming a family, the four use their instincts and tenacity to survive in a perilous, indifferent world.

Padma Venkatraman is the award-winning author of several highly acclaimed novels. Her books have been featured on numerous best book lists and received a total of 20 starred reviews.  

Born in India, Padma survived a difficult childhood. When she left India at the age of nineteen, she decided to pursue her love of science and mathematics rather than her love of literature. She immigrated to America on her own and studied oceanography and environmental engineering at the College of William and Mary and Johns Hopkins University. Before becoming a full-time author, Padma explored rainforests and coral reefs, directed a school in England, taught at a university, served as chief scientist on ships where she was the only female and only person of color, and worked in Germany, where she learned to speak German fluently. As a first-generation immigrant and a woman of color who has an invisible disability, she has been dedicated, for over a decade, to increasing diversity and multiculturalism.

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