An Indian American writer from the Gujarati diaspora reflects on what it means to make oneself visible and legible through writing in a country that struggles with race and maps her identity as an American, South Asian American, writer of color, and feminist.
Shah brings important, refreshing, and depressing observations about what it means to have dark skin and an 'exotic' name, when the only country you've ever lived in is America ... The essays in this slim volume are engaging and thought-provoking ... The essays are well-crafted with varying forms that should inspire and enlighten other essayists ... A particularly delightful chapter is the last, called 'Voice Texting with My Mother,' which is, in fact, written in texts ... Shah's thoughts on heritage and belonging are important and interesting.
Through incorporating poetry and fiction, moving from place to place, and switching among first, second and third points of view, Shah has produced a work as original and distinctive as she is...She shows what’s possible when we don’t subscribe to personal or creative restrictions.
What we witness in these pages is Shah making a place for herself in the world, for the life she lives and the creative fulfillment she pursues ... As a sort-of creative travelogue, the book’s form constantly reminds you of itself, of the journeys that the author took to produce it. Each piece ends with a date, informing us of the long expanses of time between each composition, which Shah clearly undertakes with great care. The prose is tight and succinct, but unhurried; each sentence and paragraph patiently closes the gaps between those expanses, adding another detail, idea, or layer on the story she tells ... As a result, we’re relaxed, welcomed, to ease our breath between each stop in Shah’s journey ... This is One Way To Dance becomes its own act of place-making for the reader, carefully and meticulously building a home for us and inviting us to a seat at the table. A place of comfort in the midst of this widely traveled yet deeply interior endeavor we call a writing life.