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Amarnath Ravva

California-based writer Amarnath Ravva has performed at LACMA, Machine Project, the MAK Center at the Schindler House, New Langton Arts, the Hammer Museum, USC, Pomona, CalArts, and the Sorbonne. In addition to his writing practice, he is a member of the site specific ambient music supergroup Ambient Force 3000 and for the past eight years he has helped run and curate events at Betalevel, a venue for social experimentation and hands-on culture located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. He holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.F.A. from CalArts, where he was awarded an interdisciplinary grant to help support his documentary work in South India.


American Canyon

Kaya Press Oct. 2014

Blending myth with interviews and first-person narrative, California-based writer Amarnath Ravva’s American Canyon uses prose, documentary footage, and still photos to recount the fragmented and ever-evolving story of one person’s apprehension of the ghosts of history. This narrative of a son’s love for his mother and the ritual he performs for her takes us from California to Rameswaram, the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. It is a meditation on the moments in history that placed him in front of a small bright fire, a lament for the continual loss of those who, by remembering, let us know who we are.

Poet and author Kevin Killian notes that American Canyon is “a complex reworking of memoir form, using the tools of poetry remelted, as in Vulcan’s forge, to slash away at the ghosts and ghouls of conventional prose usage. The new journalism, Ravva-style, stimulates the nerve endings with its alternately lush and spare renditions of some spectacular settings, William Kentridge or Gauguin or Florine Stettheimer should be in charge of the art direction when the movie, or opera, appears, but in the meantime sit back and enjoy the calm cool stylings of one of America’s finest young writers.”

For this work, Ravva collected documentary video and super-8 film over a period of ten years as a form of note taking. These videos also serve as a visual component of his readings.


“Ravva unearths myths so gently and casually that history never becomes too grand. His story-filled days accrue power and a bit of magic by the end—my sense of ‘now’ became poignantly unmoored.” —Miranda July

“A mesmerizing and elegiac meditation on identity, nationality, and desire. Ravva coils narratives of India and the American West in on each other, telling a family history that is both fragmented and tender. A phenomenal debut.” —Colin Dickey

“In this book, words that are usually strangers to each other are invited into the same paragraph. They look at each other carefully, and the cluster of English words seated politely and obediently around the Telugu makes room for them. Now a bit of chatter begins. The words like the way the atmosphere is charged by a free exchange of vocabulary. This is what is meant to happen in our world at its best.” —Fanny Howe

“Magic and mystery reside in American Canyon—a place where the ancient meets the contemporary, and where the profane becomes sacred. In this elegant volume, Ravva composes provocative narratives of devotion and defiance that remind us that we are all migrants in mind and memory.” —Varun Soni

“American Canyon is a book like none I have encountered, an almost hallucinatory immediacy offered with rare generosity. Amar Ravva’s tapestry of East and West demonstrates the importance of remembering rituals and histories—those of both personal and social scale.” —Nancy Buchanan

Amarnath Ravva news

Amarnath Ravva and Andrew Lam Read and Discuss at USC

Last Wednesday, February 18th, Amarnath Ravva and Andrew Lam joined USC’S APASS DESI Project and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity to read from their works and discuss Asian-American identity. Amar opened with a reading from AMERICAN CANYON and accompanying video clips which are featured as stills in his debut. Andrew Lam followed with […]


“Read American Canyon not as a text about the immigrant’s loss of an Indian homeland, but as a text about the writer-filmmaker’s loss of material footage, his laboriously and lovingly constructed archive, which is reduced once again to the memories it was supposed to replace.” That is just part of the praise that Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan […]

American Canyon Book Trailer

Experience the beauty of Amarnath Ravva’s AMERICAN CANYON by viewing one of the four book trailers. Check out our other social media sites for the other three! “In these moments between the endless chain of flowers, I think of the mothers who placed me here…”

Review of AMERICAN CANYON in The Improbable

Emily Ballaine posted a review of Amarnath Ravva’s AMERICAN CANYON to The Improbable. In it, she praises Ravva’s hybridizing style and mastery of empty spaces. “American Canyon is a book that experiments with form, and when I say ‘experiment,’ I mean it in the truest sense of the word. I mean that Ravva approaches past […]


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