This program presents award-winning journalist Prachi Gupta’s debut memoir, They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us. Prachi’s debut is a probing, heartfelt exploration of the psychological harm caused by the model minority myth, and what it takes to break free from its constraints. As a girl, Prachi did not realize that her achievement-oriented personality wasn’t really her–it was a persona forged by American immigration policy, the legacy of colonialism, and the caste system in India. In They Called Us Exceptional, she articulates the dissonance, shame, and isolation of being upheld as an American success story while privately navigating traumas that remain invisible to the world. The memoir urges readers to re-evaluate deeply entrenched cultural beliefs about success by showing how much damage these expectations do to real people’s families, bodies, and lives.
Prachi rewrites her own story by weaving personal narrative with immigration history, postcolonial theory, and research on mental health, connecting her personal experiences to a larger political and social context. While the experiences Gupta details are specific, the questions that drive the book are universal: How do we understand ourselves when the story about who we are supposed to be is stronger than our sense of self? And what do we do when self-determination means letting go of the people we love the most?
This reading is followed by a moderated conversation with Damon Young, an audience Q&A, and a book signing. You can purchase your own copy of Prachi’s book, They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us, at City of Asylum Bookstore.
About the Author:
Prachi Gupta is an award-winning journalist and former senior reporter at Jezebel. She won a Writers Guild Award for her investigative essay “Stories About My Brother,” which inspired this book. Her work was featured in The Best American Magazine Writing 2021 and has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post Magazine, Marie Claire, Salon, Elle, and elsewhere. Prachi is a Pennsylvania native and University of Pittsburgh alum, and currently resides in New York City.
About the Moderator:
Damon Young is a writer, satirist, and current host and creator of the Crooked Media podcast Stuck With Damon Young. His debut memoir, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir In Essays, won the 2020 Thurber Prize for American Humor and Barnes & Noble’s 2019 Discover Award. He is also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the culture blog VerySmartBrothas. Damon was a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and a columnist for GQ and The Washington Post Magazine, and his writing has been featured in the Atlantic, Esquire, NY Mag, the Undefeated, Ebony, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
About Your Visit:
The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but a cash wine bar will be available.
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