Misha Rai

Official site of writer Misha Rai.

The Official Site of writer Misha Rai.

PUblications & Prizes

"To learn about smoke one must first light a fire," Winner of the 2018 DOGWOOD literary prize for nonfiction, Forthcoming summer 2018.

"What We Know," Fiction for The Anthology, Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Murder and Mystery, Black Balloon Books, Imprint of Catapult books, June 5, 2018. 


"The Genealogy of a Killer," Nonfiction, Ninth letter, Spring 2018.



"Food I Did Not Eat," Fiction, Crab Orchard Review, 2017.

"But my father never made his customary call at midday, nor came back that night. Instead he was ambushed, stuck behind a police jeep with his wounded fellow officer. The gang of dacoits caught them out in their own trap. While my mother waited, the manservant looked after her, ignoring the empurpled swelling on her cheek, and brought her khichdi at noon." 

"Bihar: Before 1980 and After," Finalist, Sonora Review Essay Prize, 2015.

"My grandmother talked about my grandparent’s trips from Bukaro and Dhanbad—before the roads were built the tigers crossed this territory to get to the river. We built the roads through the heart of their lives and shared the land with them. Once, we waited for hours alongside ten or twelve ambassador and fiat cars as a tigress herded her noncompliant offspring across the road. Your mother and uncle and aunt sat listless in the backseat tired of their Enid Blyton’s and your grandfather fanned himself with the newspaper. Each time she ferried one cub across the other two scurried back playing a game they did not have permission for. Then one of her cubs shimmied under our car. From my window I watched her arch her back, stick her face under the front tyre, and roar her cub out the other side and the car shook with the force of her roar. Your uncle’s bowels loosened and the cub rolled right back under the car as if this too was a game. When the cub finally came out, the tigress nosed it on its back and placed her paw on its chest, like I held your mothers hand years later on the day you were born, and growled until the cub closed its eyes. When the tigress finally raised herself, the cub wriggled across the road with its siblings following suit, and we were almost at eye level. Her eyes travelled all over me and when I could not bear the yellow of her gaze anymore I let my eye travel all over her majestic body and watched her dance her black and gold tail from side to side." 

"Wings," Nonfiction, Hayden's Ferry Review, 2014.

"There is no language that would allow a conversation between the two women who made up her father’s private life, my grandmother often tells my mother when she comes to visit us in the winters in Delhi from Bihar. Over pots of cardamom milk-tea they speak invariably of certain blemishes in the family history behind cupped bejewelled hands. “A butterfly and a moth may descend from a similar order but their lives and the manner of leading those lives is never the same,” my grandmother will say, as though by rote. “Neither is their death, Nina. Some dust, some burn.”

Some have their wings ripped, Mother tells Father one night when we are still children, and they’re still in the habit of standing in our room watching us sleep. I was not very good at pretend sleepbreathing, nor was my brother at lying still, although we were always very good at running around the various family estates looking for something to catch. One day in the storage rooms of the old hospital building, out of where Great-Grandpapa’s surgery had been run, we find suture hooks no one uses anymore and attach them to the hand held sweep nets that are our hunting weapons and set out on mid-afternoons to capture and impale whatever life there is, for our insect books, to pin in." 

"The Immigrant Novelist at Work in London," The Missouri Review Blog, 2014.


"Housewives, Mothers," Fiction, Indiana Review, 2013. 

"We have been taught what to talk of, how much to talk, how to laugh, how much to laugh, how to sit, who to sit with, how to eat, how much to eat, how to walk, how softly to walk. We know how to fade away. A lady must be like the wallpaper, always admired but never doubted in her taste. And among these things we have also been taught how to play a fine game, any game, and lose by anticipating when our husbands will not win. The Sisters took special pains to instil that in us. You will figure it out in time – that the only way to get anything from a man is to lose to him. We learned this from our superiors who in turn learned from the priests. We were pitted against many brother schools for various competitions and urged to lose. After years of winning it was strange to think of losing. Some of us broke right away. A few of us took longer. Many of us were stubborn. Our mothers wrote to us week after week. Is this why we’re paying so much money to have you raised right? Will you shame us like this? Don’t you always listen to what papa says? How is this any different? Why is it so difficult for you to understand the necessity of this? Would you like to fail the exams? The Finish? We give you as much as your brothers and with little expectation. In the final three years of our education, losing is the last lesson we learn."

"Short Story Month, Day 27: The Sex Lives of African Girls by Taise Selasi," The Missouri Review Blog, 2013.