Namrata writes fiction, nonfiction, and serves as Interviews Editor for Kweli journal where she curates a series titled “Race, Power, and Storytelling.” For about two decades, her work has explored the intersection of storytelling, race, class, gender, place and migration.
Her scholarly work has focused on maritime sites (boats, ports, beaches) and stories of global travel, empire, environmentalism, tourism and multiculturalism in postcolonial islands, especially those of the Indian Ocean. She has written on islands in English and in French for various anthologies on the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. Her nonfiction looks at the ways in which contemporary, multiethnic literature decenters western or white, male, aesthetic assumptions in both literary and popular storytelling while her fiction explores the lives of transnational brown diaspora. Her work has appeared in Longreads, Literary Hub, Transition, Poets & Writers, The Margins, The Progressive, Electric Literature, CounterPunch, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, VIDA Review, Necessary Fiction, Jaggery, The Aerogram, The Caravan, and elsewhere. Her story “Excursion” was awarded the first prize at the contest organized by 14th international short story conference, judged by Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise. Her other stories have been selected for The Best Asian Stories 2019, forthcoming from Kitaab, and placed as a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction’s 2019 Halifax Ranch Fiction Prize, judged by Rebecca Makkai. Her debut fiction manuscript, Ladies Special, Homebound, was a finalist for Feminist Press's 2018 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize and is scheduled to release from Speaking Tiger Books (rights sold for South Asia).
Namrata holds a Ph.D. in French Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in Fiction from Bennington Writing Seminars, and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA. She has spoken on contemporary Anglophone and Francophone storytelling in conferences across the world, taught the same at different institutions in India and the US, and served as jury for the 2018 Plaza Literary Prize, a national novella competition. You can listen to her talk about her relationship with storytelling and the "literary" in this podcast (http://heritagefuture.org/226-namrata-poddar/) or read her essay, “A Storyteller, Unbecoming” at Longreads (https://longreads.com/2018/03/08/storyteller-unbecoming-writer-of-color/).
She is multilingual with "roots" in Thar desert's migrant Marwari community and has lived in Mumbai and Kolkata (India), Tours and Avignon (France), Quatre Bornes (Mauritius), Philadelphia and Los Angeles (USA). She currently lives with her husband and her son in Huntington Beach, California.