Author Pallavi Sharma Dixit Releases Debut Novel

by | Jun 2024

Edison Novel Cover

Photos: Chris Emeott

Edison is an intricate love letter to childhood and heritage.

Edison, New Jersey, is a borough 30 minutes outside of New York City. It’s famous for being the home of the Thomas Edison Museum. But it’s also known as Little India, with 1 mile of shops stretching down Oak Tree Road, selling food, clothing and books and more. This is where local author Pallavi Sharma Dixit grew up, and she used it as the backdrop for her debut novel, lovingly called, Edison.

“My goal was to create a Bollywood movie in a novel and tell the story of Edison,” Dixit says. Bollywood, the Indian version of Hollywood, was one of her obsessions in high school. The novel is sprinkled with stories of her life and loves, along with those passed down from her family. The main character, Prem, is obsessed with Bollywood, as is Dixit. Readers will find themselves immersed in a beautiful story about Prem, who eventually falls in love with Leena, but he is faced with a challenge when her father gives Prem an almost impossible task to achieve before they can marry. Throughout the novel, readers meet an improbable cast of characters, glean bits of Bollywood history and follow the relationship between Prem and Leena from 1987 to 2003.

Pallavi Sharma Dixit

Pallavi Sharma Dixit

Finding Inspiration

Dixit watched one tiny Indian grocery store morph into more than a mile of Indian-based shops, restaurants and even a movie theater that serves samosas while showing a Bollywood film. “I found it interesting how hard people worked to make Edison what it is now,” she says. Throughout her childhood, she would visit relatives in Jaipur, India, where she solidified her ability to move seamlessly between the two cultures. She became an American citizen when she was in high school. But no matter which country she was in, Indian culture was deeply ingrained in her daily life, from the newspaper her parents read on a daily basis to the summers she spent in India and the grocery store down the road from her Edison home.

Pallavi and her mom at a park in Edison, New Jersey.

Pallavi and her mom at a park in Edison, New Jersey.

“Usually, you find these kinds of ethnic enclaves in cities. So, I found it so interesting that this little India developed in the suburbs,” Dixit says. She took that interest with her when earning her degrees in history.

“Writing Edison was a journey,” Dixit says. There have been multiple versions of the manuscript since she first defended her thesis of the same name back in the early 2000s.

Bringing Edison to Life in Edina

As Edison developed in the suburbs, so too did Dixit’s novel. She moved to Minneapolis 20 years ago after marrying her husband because, “It felt like home and was the perfect place to raise children,” she says. Now, with two children, ages 9 and 12, a majority of her days play out in the Edina area from groceries to doctors, from school to coffee. While her kids were in preschool, she wrote her book at Caribou Coffee at 50th & France, Starbucks and at The Reserve. Writing for hours, draft after draft, it would be prudent to take note of where she was sitting because she could always be found in the best place to plug in a laptop should the battery go low.

Dixit immerses herself in the creative flow of her home office, penning her latest masterpiece.

Dixit immerses herself in the creative flow of her home office, penning her latest masterpiece.

Dixit’s writing wasn’t always as easy as heading to the local coffee shop and pounding away at the pages of her novel. She worked hard to hone her craft. She strategically connected with other Minnesotan writers to create a strong group of peers that she considers her writing group. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing, Dixit had the beginnings of what she needed to fulfill her dream, but it was the true determination and intrigue that made Edison a reality. She taught at The Loft in Minneapolis, which is one of the most renowned writing centers in the country, and was part of its mentorship program.

“I felt immediately that I had a writing community here,” Dixit says. In fact, not only did she find a writing community, she found notoriety. She received multiple grants and awards from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board and others. But it was Dixit’s win from the Asian American Writers Workshop’s Pages in Progress Prize and the First Pages Prize in fiction that made Edison more than a concept. Dixit’s goal is to create characters who have the ability to draw in readers and have Edison come to life on the page.

Edison comes out on June 4 and is available wherever books are sold.

Pallavi Sharma Dixit
Instagram: @pallavisdixit


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