Janika Oza in conversation with Jason Allen

Watermark Books & Café is excited to welcome debut author Janika Oza for her new book, A History of Burning! This epic, sweeping historical novel spans continents and a century, and reveals how the act of survival can reverberate through generations. Janika will be joined in conversation by WSU Creative Writing Professor Jason Allen, author of the book The East End. Join us for this event on Tuesday, May 23rd at 6:00pm CT in-store or on Facebook Live! RSVP below. 

This event is part of our International Voices series, which focuses on narratives that follow families that span generations and countries. These stories are beautiful and complex, showcasing families and how they survive over hundreds of years. Join us for our first event of the series with Janika Oza, author of A History of Burning on Tuesday, May 23rd at 6:00pm CT at Watermark Books & Café. Join us for our second event of the series with Peace Adzo Medie, author of Nightbloom on Thursday, June 15th at 6:00pm CT, also at Watermark Books & Café.

About Janika Oza

Janika Oza is the winner of the 2022 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction, and the 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Award. She has received support from The Millay Colony, Tin House Summer and Winter Workshops, VONA/Voices of Our Nation, and the One Story Summer Writers’ Conference, and her stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The Best Small Fictions 2019 AnthologyCatapultThe Adroit Journal, and Prairie Schooner, among others. She lives in Toronto.

About A History of Burning

This epic, sweeping historical novel full of "wondrous complexity” spans continents and a century, and reveals how one act of survival can reverberate through generations (Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin). ​

“Remarkable….a haunting, symphonic tale”— New York Times Book Review

In 1898, Pirbhai, a teenage boy looking for work, is taken from his village in India to labor for the British on the East African Railway. Far from home, Pirbhai commits a brutal act in the name of survival that will haunt him and his family for years to come.

So begins Janika Oza’s masterful, richly told epic, where the embers of this desperate act are fanned into flame over four generations, four continents, throughout the twentieth century. Pirbhai’s children are born in Uganda during the waning days of British colonial rule, and as the country moves toward independence, his granddaughters, three sisters, come of age in a divided nation. Latika is an aspiring journalist, who will put everything on the line for what she believes in; Mayuri’s ambitions will take her farther away from home than she ever imagined; and fearless Kiya will have to carry the weight of her family’s silence and secrets.

In 1972, the entire family is forced to flee under Idi Amin’s military dictatorship. Pirbhai’s grandchildren are now scattered across the world, struggling to find their way back to each other. One day a letter arrives with news that makes each generation question how far they are willing to go, and who they are willing to defy, to secure their own place in the world.

A History of Burning is an unforgettable tour de force, an intimate family saga of complicity and resistance, about the stories we share, the ones that remain unspoken, and the eternal search for home.

About Jason Allen

Jason Allen writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the novel The East End (Park Row Books/HarperCollins) and the poetry collection A Meditation on Fire (Southeast Missouri State University Press). He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University.

His work has been published in: Passages North, Paterson Literary Review, Contemporary American Voices, Cream City Review, Ragazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and many other venues. He’s taught in China and done at least a dozen coast-to-coast drives across the U.S.

He’d like to meet Tom Waits someday and buy him a cup of coffee.

Jason was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont and spent the first year of his life in a log cabin, and then grew up working-class-poor in the Hamptons. He will forever think of Powell’s Books in downtown Portland as a sacred space.

He currently lives in Wichita, Kansas.

About The East End

A tragic accident threatens to unravel two families in this gripping novel of suspense and culture clash set in the Hamptons.

Corey Halpern, a local high schooler with a troubled home life, is desperate to leave the Hamptons and start anew somewhere else. His last summer before college, he settles for the escapism he finds in sneaking into neighboring mansions.

One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks into the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate, where he and his mother, Gina, work. Under the cover of darkness, Leo Sheffield, patriarch and billionaire CEO, arrives unexpectedly with a companion. After a shocking poolside accident, everything depends on Leo burying the truth before his family and friends arrive for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened, as did other eyes in the shadows.

Secrecy, obsession and desperation dictate each character's path in this spectacular debut. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina and Leo approach a common breaking point. With an ending as explosive as the Memorial Day fireworks on the island, The East End welcomes a bright new voice in fiction.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
4701 E Douglas Ave
Wichita, KS 67218
A History of Burning By Janika Oza Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538724248
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 2nd, 2023

The East End By Jason Allen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778309772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Park Row - April 7th, 2020

A Meditation on Fire By Jason Allen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780996259651
Availability: Available to order! Usually Ships to Store in 3-5 Days.
Published: Southeast Missouri State Univ Press - September 1st, 2016