Minal Hajratwala is the author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. The book won a Pen USA Award, an Asian American Writers Workshop Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a California Book Award (Silver, Nonfiction), and was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Writing Prize. She spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.
She is the editor of Out! Stories From the New Queer India (Queer Ink, 2013), a groundbreaking anthology of contemporary LGBT literature since the decriminalization of homosexuality in India.
Ms. Hajratwala spent 2010-11 as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in India researching a novel, while also writing poems about the unicorns of the ancient Indus Valley. Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council. Her one-woman show, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999.
As a writing coach, Ms. Hajratwala believes language is magical, and she loves helping individuals and organizations access the power to express themselves in words. She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally at universities, community organizations, and online, including as a 2012 memoir faculty member at the Voices of Our Nations Arts summer program for writers of color on the University of California-Berkeley campus. She is the creatrix of Blueprint Your Book, an intensive and inspiring six-lesson program for manuscript development; and Writing from the Chakras, a body-based system that leads to fast, energized, powerful breakthroughs by tapping the seven levels of human experience that make up rich, versatile writing.
As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News from 1992 to 2000 as an editor, reporter, and the newspaper’s first reader representative (ombudsperson). She is a graduate of Stanford University and held a fellowship in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 2000-01.