Color photograph of a brown skinned woman with dark hair wearing glasses; she sits in a garden or backyard location with a wooden fence behind her, her hand resting on her chin as she looks off camera

Shruti Swamy

Rome Prize in Literature
February 5–July 5, 2024
Writer, San Francisco
Project title
Margret and Vishnu: Stories
Project description

Margret and Vishnu is populated by a variety of mothers: an estranged grandmother tentatively caring for her granddaughter, a stepmother finding her footing in her new role, and an eleven-year-old who considers herself her baby brother’s mother—as well as the foster mother to a god, a new mother awash in memories of a former lover, and a goddess contemplating the demands of motherhood over an artistic career—all navigating the pleasures and painful complexities of collective caregiving. At a moment when most caregivers are in crisis in America, I’m drawn to exploring this “essential labor,” as named by the writer Angela Garbes, whose recent book examines the radical possibilities of mothering for social transformation. What I’m interested in exploring is outside the paradigm of American individualistic childrearing. What does a collective existence look like, beyond nuclear family life? What joyful possibilities can it offer us?