MINAL HAJRATWALA IS...
a unicorn of many colors, but a poet at heart. Her first poetry collection, Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, includes poems and the script for her theatrical poetry extravaganza, "Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium," which was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999. It is published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, which publishes contemporary poetry books from India under a collective mentorship model.
In 2009, her nonfiction epic Leaving India: My Family's Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents came out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It was 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. Minal spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.
Minal spent 2010-11 as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar in India researching her next book, a novel. During that time she also connected with the LGBT movement in India and edited a groundbreaking anthology, Out! Stories From the New Queer India, which was published by a Mumbai independent press, Queer Ink, in 2013.
Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council.
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 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. 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.
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 National Arts Journalism Program fellowship in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 2000-01.