Monday, July 18, 2022

New York Times bestselling author and physician, Sayantani DasGupta, brilliantly re-imagines the beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice, to reflect the complex, diverse world of American high school culture with her new book Debating Darcy



Originally trained in pediatrics and public health, Sayantani DasGupta teaches in the Graduate Program in Narrative Medicine, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, all at Columbia University. She writes and speaks on issues of race, gender, health and social justice.

New York Times bestselling author and physician, Sayantani DasGupta, brilliantly re-imagines the beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice, to reflect the complex, diverse world of American high school culture. The book is already receiving rave reviews, and you need not be an Austen-head, to love it and the conversations around the many issues Sayantani weaves in and addresses.

“Studded with references to U.S. and South Asian pop culture as well as Jane Austen–related Easter eggs, DasGupta’s astute, buoyant comedy of manners employs witty, rat-a-tat dialogue alongside social commentary about subjects including classism, colorism, and sexism.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review


“Fiercely feminist and utterly delightful. Jane Austen would be proud.”
—Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Internment

New York Times bestselling author, Sayantani DasGupta, brilliantly re-imagines the beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice, to reflect the complex, diverse world of American high school culture, in her bright and funny YA debut, DEBATING DARCY (on sale April 19, 2022 |Scholastic Press). Set against the ultra-competitive world of speech and debate tournaments, DEBATING DARCY blends hilarious, light writing with pertinent issues impacting young people today,such as the class conflict between private school Darcy and public school Leela, toxic masculinity, and the #MeToo movement.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that Leela Bose plays to win. A life-long speech competitor, Leela loves nothing more than crushing the competition, all while wearing a smile. But when she meets the incorrigible Firoze Darcy, a debater from an elitist private school, Leela can’t stand him. Unfortunately, he’ll be competing in the state league, so their paths are set to collide. But why attempt to tolerate Firoze when Leela can one-up him? The situation is more complicated than Leela anticipated, though, and her participation in the tournament reveals that she might have tragically misjudged the debaters -- including Firoze Darcy -- and more than just her own winning streak is at stake…her heart is, too.

A feminist manifesto that would make Jane Austen herself proud, DEBATING DARCY is a must read for teenagers, gatekeepers, and fans of the beloved classic everywhere.


Dear Reader,

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice’s Lizzie and Darcy are among the most iconic examples of enemies-to-lovers couples. In Austen’s original 1813 novel, the pair bicker, fight, and debate their way into falling in love—so it made perfect sense to me to set my modern reimagining in the ultra-competitive world of high school speech and debate tournaments.

I am a huge Austen-head. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice umpteen times and seen every possible stage, TV and movie adaptation. Maybe my love of Jane Austen comes from my being a daughter of Indian immigrants. There are certainly a lot of similarities between the way that Austen characters obsess over eligible matches and the central role of marriage in many Desi communities. Yet, although Leela and Darcy—the protagonists of this novel—are both South Asian Americans, that’s not my central impulse for writing this story.

The themes of Pride and Prejudice I wanted to explore in this novel include the class conflict between private school Darcy and public school Leela; the importance of being willing to change your mind about someone and not give into prejudice; as well as toxic masculinity and sexism. Although Wickham, the lying, womanizing villain of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, preys on much younger women, there is no space in the original novel for those teenage girls to fight back in any public way. I wanted my modern, feminist characters to say all the things that their 1813 counterparts could not, and in doing so, honor the #metoo stories being shared by many brave high schoolers, including speech and debate competitors, in an effort to make these spaces more welcoming, equitable and just.

This is a novel that celebrates the power of finding your community and speaking your truth, even when it’s scary. It’s a novel about knowing we are all worthy of taking up space in the world. In between the wit and banter, the complex debate topics and funny musical theater references, this is ultimately a story about justice and honor, friendship and love.

So, dear reader, whether you have, like me, read and watched versions of Pride and Prejudice a zillion times, or really never heard of it until now, I hope you find power, laughter, courage and joy in these pages.

Words matter. Art matters. Debating the issues that affect our lives matters. Your voice matters. YOU matter. And love—in all its beautiful romantic and nonromantic derivations—matters most of all.

- Sayantani 



SAYANTANI DASGUPTA is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed, Bengali folktale and string theory-inspired Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond books, the first of which -- The Serpent's Secret -- was a Booklist Best Middle Grade Novel of the 21st Century and an E. B. White Read Aloud Honor Book. Sayantani is a pediatrician by training, but now teaches at Columbia University. She is a team member of We Need Diverse Books, and can be found online at sayantanidasgupta.com and on Twitter at @sayantani16.


National CPR and AED (Automated External Defribrillator) Awareness Week is June 1st through 7th. Janeane will be in conversation with a cardiac arrest survivor, Steven Munatones, and Dr. Shira Schlesinger.

According to CPR.Heart.org, back in 2007, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and the National Safety Council collaborate...