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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

Smokin’ Hot Indie Lit Lounge & Pre-Party at the LA Times Festival of Books

Come hang out, make things, get hands-on publishing experience, and meet some amazing literary artists at our booth at the LA Times Festival Of Books! OTHER BOOKS/Seite Books will be curating an amazing selection of comics, zines, and literature, plus we’ll be featuring books from Kaya Press, Kundiman, and other LA indie presses. We’ll have publishing-and-bookmaking activities […]

Surrealist Sunday featuring Sho Sugita, Amarnath Ravva and Muriel Leung

Join us for the LA launch of Spiral Staircase, the collected poems of Hirato Renkichi, just out from Ugly Duckling Presse. Translator Sho Sugita will read from the first definitive volume in English of the work of this pioneer of the Japanese avant-garde, along with LA-based authors Amarnath Ravva (American Canyon, Kaya Press) and Muriel Leung […]

On the Road: Four Writers Cross Borders

We over here at the Kaya Press HQ are super excited for this upcoming reading on Sunday, Aug. 21st that will feature Amarnath Ravva, Neelanjana Banerjee, Yago S. Cura, & Kenji Liu. We also especially can’t wait to collaborate with Peter Woods, who is hosting event in the Air 11 space. There will be words, there will be […]

#LitInColor Mixtape Announcement (Update!)

Close followers of Kaya Press and our positively vibrant social media accounts will know that we love to place the spotlight on writers of color with our #LitInColor campaign. Well starting now we’re adding a new branch to that campaign and it shall henceforth be known as the #LitInColor Mixtape! At this year’s 2016 AWP […]