Raj Tawney, writer.
PRE-ORDER Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience available 10/3/23.LATEST WRITING:
The search for matzo meal, and for connection to our past (Sun Sentinel)How Jay-Z’s remix of ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ helped bridge cultural divides in post-9/11 America (Frontline/The Hindu)Flour power: a single ingredient can be life-changing (The Spectator)Tony Bennett Shaped My Family (Newsweek)Accepting pitches and ideas.
Also, I love hearing from readers and writers alike. Email me.
ESSAYS/CREATIVE NONFICTIONThe search for matzo meal, and for connection to our past (Sun Sentinel)How Jay-Z’s remix of ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ helped bridge cultural divides in post-9/11 America (Frontline/The Hindu)Flour power: a single ingredient can be life-changing (The Spectator)Tony Bennett Shaped My Family (Newsweek)My Brother's Hoop Dreams (The Comeback)Tiny Love Story: Jimi Hendrix and Bluejeans (The New York Times)The Teacher Who Inspired Me to Be Who I Am Today (Education Week)Roger Federer's Legacy Goes Way Beyond Tennis (The Arrow)Think Different (KQED/NPR)What it's been like as a writer of color trying to sell a book that isn’t all about trauma (NBC News)An Ode to 'Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast' (Brooklyn Magazine)1952: Why Try to Change Sinatra Now (The Great American Songbook Foundation)In a Gazan Home in California, Two Writers Share a Taste of Home (Literary Hub)Being Ricky Ricardo: Why Desi Arnaz matters (Fortune Magazine)A Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald From the Second Roaring '20s (Writer's Digest)Beware of Humans at the Dog Park (Weekly Humorist)How Oscar Wilde and an Indie Rock Song Inspired My Path (Chicago Review of Books)From chana masala to lasagna, my family's Thanksgiving table tells our American story (NBC News)My Puerto Rican Grandma Was a Silent Trailblazer (Latino Rebels)For many Americans of color, including my friends, Sept. 11 only inflamed divisions (USA Today)Malaria, My Mother and Me (PBS Next Avenue)Everyone Gets Rejected – Here's How to Move On (Harvard Business Review)Tour a 1930s Long Island Bungalow DIYed Into a Creative Haven – Photo Essay (HGTV)Naomi Osaka Just Reminded Me Why I Left Social Media (Newsweek)Going Vegetarian Is Better For Us And The Environment—Why Is It So Hard To Do? (Delish Magazine)What a Pandemic Funeral Taught Me About Family (Modern Loss)A year of changed minds: I changed my mind on my own racial identity (The Philadelphia Inquirer)The diversity dinner (The Spectator)She’s 90 and Italian. I’m in my 30s and half Indian. Here’s why we’re the closest of friends. (The Washington Post)Will Indian Buffets Survive the Pandemic? (The New York Times)How my Puerto Rican mother became an expert Indian cook (The Guardian)How my family came to feast on meatballs, plátanos and curry for Christmas dinner (Los Angeles Times)70-Year-Old's Commitment to Tennis, Fitness Is Inspiring to All (Sports Illustrated)For The Voter Who Cares About a President's Public Image (McSweeney's)Why movie houses matter, more than ever (The Hill)Adopting a Dog during the Pandemic (The Bark)Contrariwise: Let's Stop Bashing Millennials (The Saturday Evening Post)Moving into my in-laws' could've infantilized me. But we worked to make it empowering. (NBC News)The Ramblings of a Young Curmudgeon (F(r)iction Literary Magazine)Robert De Niro has arrived, again. (Berlin Film Journal)An Eventual Friendship (Best Friends Magazine)A Crash-Course in a New Cuisine (New York Magazine)Grandma Elsie's Rich Life Lessons (Reminisce Magazine)I went 24 hours with no coffee. Here’s how it went (The Boston Globe)Blinded by the Light Reminds Us That We're All the Same—Regardless of Skin Color (O, the Oprah Magazine)Remembering Anthony Bourdain (LA Weekly)How a stray cat brought my neighborhood together for the very first time (HelloGiggles/Yahoo)Doris Day, my grandma and me: A reflection on family on the movie star’s birthday (New York Daily News)I'm a born and bred New Yorker — but I've realised this year that I have to leave (The Independent)Was I Love Lucy Ahead of Its Time? (Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/Emmys.com)A Mind Blown Upon Learning John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' Was Written on Long Island (Long Island Press)At home, a mom. At the hospital, a professional nurse. (Newsday)Resolution For 2019: Find a Common Ground (The Daily Rant)New generations loving Sinatra in the digital age (The Desert Sun)It Took Me 30 Years To Come To Terms With Half Of My Identity (Huff Post)We’ll always want to sit in the dark at the movies (Miami Herald)A general friendship at the movies (Newsday)JOURNALISMThey Freed 19 Sharks From a Commercial Fisherman’s Net. Now They Could Go to Prison. (The New Republic)The Dumping of Pandemic Pets (The Village Voice)Buddy Guy Is a Reminder of Blues' Influence on Popular Music (Miami New Times)FC Barcelona Arrives in Miami, Preceded by Its Reputation (Miami New Times)Jurassic World Dominion's dinosaur trafficking isn't far from reality (New Scientist)Why Arturo Sandoval Matters (uDiscover Music)Steve Almond's Debut Novel Contains Echoes of His Years as a New Times Staff Writer (Miami New Times)What Happened When My Vaccinated Puppy Contracted a Mysterious Stomach Illness (Slate)Searching for Curry and Enlightenment on the Indian Buffet Line (Smithsonian Magazine)An Interview with Farah Ali About Her New Book, People Want to Live (McSweeney's)When Nas and Lauryn Hill Ruled the World (The Village Voice)An Interview with Jehad al-Saftawi About His New Book, My Gaza: A City in Photographs (McSweeney's Books)South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund Gives Hope to Artists During Pandemic (Hyphen Magazine)Covid-19 and Wildlife Trade Bans (The Ecologist)Martin Scorsese brings Philly’s Frank Sheeran to Netflix with ‘The Irishman’ (Broad Street Review)Humans' Enduring Toll on the Galapagos Island (MIT's Undark Magazine (Republished in Popular Science))The Dave Brubeck Quartet's 'Time Out' at 60: Inside Jazz's First Million-Selling LP (Billboard Magazine)‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High’ at 40: How the Ramones and a Rebellious Female Lead Invaded Theaters (Variety)A sport that lost track of its main asset (Newsday/amNY)Sharks aren't the enemy, we are (The Epoch Times)Sammy, the one-winged bald eagle, snatched from wildlife refuge (TreeHugger)Sinatra, civil-rights champion: A side of Frank not many people know (New York Daily News)POETRYAnd Gizmo Makes Three: An Adoption Poem (Modern Dog Magazine)A Poem for Refugees (The New Humanitarian)A Poem: "Merry Christmas, I’ve Scheduled Your Vaccine Appointment" (Miami New Times)Smartphone Brain Blues (Adbusters)Socially Distant Blues (Bklyner.)Reflections on Henry (Tiny Seed Literary Journal)Trump-or-Treat (The Satirist)Commercial virus (QuarantineDreams (Italy))Hey Techies, Checking In (San Francisco Chronicle)What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think of the future? (The Iowa Review)Trip to the Supermarket During a Pandemic (L.A. TACO)The Business End of COVID-19 (Indolent Books)Oscar Viewing Party at My Woke Friend's House (Entropy Magazine)
COLORFUL PALATEInterview w/ The Color of UsReview in Library JournalInterview w/ Mixed by Gen ZReview in Foreword ReviewsCATS Coffee Break: Conversation w/ author Mikki HernandezInterview w/ India CurrentsExclusive Cover Reveal w/ Latinx in PublishingMISCELLANEOUSQuoted in FiQuoted in MovieWebHighlighted in BooktimistHighlighted in Harvard Business ReviewHighlighted in Poets & WritersInterview w/ Sandwich Parenting PodcastHighlighted in The Counter
I'm Raj Tawney, a born-and-raised New Yorker, and a proud multiracial American (1/2 Indian, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Puerto Rican descent). I've contributed nonfiction essays, journalism, and poetry to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Iowa Review, and over 80 publications around the world. I love writing stories from my unique, personal viewpoint. I explore everything that stokes my curiosity and interests, including identity, race, history, food, health, nature, entertainment, and current events shaping our culture. Simply put, I write with purpose and for the people.I didn’t attend a prestigious university nor was I provided with any pre-existing connections. I've just led with passion and persistence. Life has taught me how to excel, fail, evolve, and appreciate all of the cuts, scratches, and scars. But most importantly, I've learned how to get back up, no matter the circumstance. My writing reflects my own life experience and perspective.I’m a storyteller. Period.In 2023, I received a Maxwell Medallion from the Dog Writers Association of America for this story in The Village Voice.
ADVANCE PRAISE:"Raj Tawney deftly explores his culturally-rich upbringing, unearthing pivotal answers to one of the most fascinating questions in the world: who am I? Through a captivating mix of intimate stories of family, tradition and flavor, he paints a poignant portrait of identity and what it really means to be an American. Coupled with mouth-watering recipes that reflect his multifaceted heritage and his respect for food, Colorful Palate is a touching example of the power we can all yield when we embrace our roots as we partake in—to use Tawney's words—the 'Great American Experiment'.
– John Leguizamo"A lovingly wrought and deliciously intimate memoir that captures the stupendous mélange that is Tawney’s American life (and ours). A feast for the mind, a banquet for the heart, as generous as hospitality and as unforgettable as your favorite meal."
– Junot Díaz, author of This is How You Lose HerBeing an immigrant myself, I have always appreciated the cultural diversity and acceptance of it in the United States. Raj Tawney is born American and, in this delightful book, he relates to his identity, his life, and growing up in three cultures. The recipes that follow in each chapter are a delicious recall of memories and flavors of each culture. He connects to his roots with tenderness, appreciation, and understanding of his multiethnic family that ends in the kitchen cooking those favorite recipes. Overcoming, with understanding, some of the difficulties he encountered as a multiethnic child growing up, he knows that there are many young Americans that are of different cultural blends as he is and that is evermore what America is, and what makes America the great country it is. A great read, the tasteful recipes are the bonus.
– Lidia BastianichRaj Tawney's Colorful Palate is a delicious, charming, and winning coming-of-age story that is authentically American in exploring the messy, beautiful, painful, and ultimately rewarding contradictions of trying to expand stifling boundaries to accommodate and celebrate the multi-hyphenated experiences of those who are often relegated to the margins.
– Wajahat Ali, author of Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American"Too often in America, we are asked to put ourselves into boxes and categories that reduce us to just one aspect of our identity. In Colorful Palate, Raj Tawney rejects the notion that folks with intersectional identities have to choose which aspects to highlight, and which to set aside. He artfully maps the many facets of his own identity: the ethnicities, relationships and meals that shaped him. In doing so, he shows us that both our plates, and our pages, can and should reflect the multitudes we contain. As a new mom to a baby with Indian, Jewish, Irish, and Italian roots, I am so grateful that this book will grace our shelves, and offer a map to my daughter for how to honor her own intersectional story."
– Neema Avashia, author of Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place"Raj's memoir about food, class and race in New York is not your usual upper-class, upper-caste, Indian story. Here is an Indian who is equally Puerto Rican as much as Italian. A kid raised well on Arroz Negro, Insalata di Mare and Tandoori chicken. Read it and cook from it to figure out what it might mean to be authentically American."
– Krishnendu Ray, Professor of Food Studies at NYU and author of The Ethnic Restaurateur and The Migrant's Table"In the introduction to this linear, food-based memoir, journalist Tawney writes, 'So, what am I? A magnificent concoction conceived in a pivotal period in late-twentieth-century America.' Born to a Puerto Rican and Italian mother and an Indian father, the author has been profoundly shaped by the racist assumptions built into a world unwilling to accept families 'undefined by a single group or birthright.' Even when he was young, he writes, 'I knew somehow that I was entering a world that wouldn’t easily digest me . . ."
– Kirkus Reviews"Raj’s honest and reflective writing grapples with the raw complexities and beauty of embracing one’s identity and allows any reader to draw a seat and be welcomed with love and joy at his family’s kitchen table."
– Diana Liu, New York State English Council"This is a lovely foodie memoir highlighting moments in Raj Tawney's life and associated food memories from his Indian, Puerto Rican, and Italian American family. It's a quick but meaningful and immersive read, and I love that Tawney included so many recipes written in a way that feels like they were passed down from relatives. If you love books about food, you won't be disappointed.
– Susie Dumond, reviewer"Infused with passion and brio, [Colorful Palate] highlights the pros and cons of being a multiracial nonconformist in a society that values fitting in. Tawney’s rearview-mirror look at his formative years leaves him grateful―for strong family role models and small moments shared with his loved ones. And the book includes a family recipe at the end of each chapter in remembrance of the gustatory pleasures it recounts . . . A memoir about rejecting conformity to lead a colorful, authentic life."
– Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews"The author writes with clarity and humor about growing up in the 1990s and 2000s in a comfortable—not lavish—childhood home in Long Island, NY, loving hip-hop so much that he pursued, on and off, a music career during his college days. After graduation, his experience explaining technology to his grandmother resulted in a job working at a home for senior citizens, where he formed solid friendships. Each chapter of this memoir ends with a theme-fitting recipe for such items as tandoori chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and rainbow cookies. A heartfelt memoir. The author's ability to follow his passions and find his place in the world will resonate with many readers, especially those interested in multicultural narratives." – Laurie Unger Skinner, Library Journal
Currently agentlessFeel free to reach out with any tips, pitches, ideas or just to say hello.
I'll get back to you soon.
Friday, September 29 at 4 PM
Feast and Famine Lecture Series
New York University
New York, NYSaturday, September 30 at 8 PM
Book Party for newly published authors (Private)
New York, NYSunday, October 1 at 3 PM
Book Signing @ Fordham University Press Booth
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn, NYThursday, October 5 at 7 PM
New York, NY
w/ Wajahat AliTuesday, October 10
Beacon Hill Books
w/ Neema AvashiaThursday, October 12
Pépin Lecture Series
Boston, MATuesday, October 24 at 7 PM
Books & Books
w/ Vanessa GarciaFriday, October 27 at 6 PM
Los Angeles, CA
w/ Claudia Forestieri