Passage West is a dramatic and moving account of the immigrant experience, uncovering its underlying humanity. Rishi Reddi has spent twelve years on research into the early history of Sikh settlement in the agricultural valleys of California in the years 1913-1924, showing a pattern of immigration still recognizable today: that of the human endeavour and resilience involved, the tragedy and sacrifice of owing allegiance to different worlds, as well as its hard-won triumphs. A weighty subject to which she brings a novelist's gift for rich portraiture and dramatic tension.

    Anita Desai, author of Fasting, Feasting and The Artist of Disappearance

    Much has been written about the early twentieth century European immigrants to America but a story far less told is that of people who came at the same time from India. With an acute sense of place, a deft hand, and impressive knowledge Rishi Reddi shows us lives ruptured and reshaped by the move to the States and how sacrifice, ambition, and prejudice affected not just immigrants from India but from Mexico and Japan as well. Expansive, moving, and deeply powerful, Passage West explores an important and overlooked chapter in our national history and is a refreshingly honest novel about the people who gave everything to this country but were often overlooked and traumatized by the very nation to which they contributed so greatly.

    Marjan Kamali, author of Stationery Shop

    I have never read a novel like this about the Indian-American experience. And yet, Rishi Reddi is writing the American experience, of how we belong and make our lives in unforgiving places. Passage West is a novel on a grand scale, with characters so carefully drawn with quiet affection and their actions tempered with a keen sense of human fallibility. With mesmerizing craftsmanship and imagination, Reddi takes the reader on an unforgettable journey across continents and most importantly, deeply into the lives of the people whom she writes about. Reddi does more than merely renew our sense of the Indian-American novel: she renews our sense of the novel. An astounding debut.

    Nina McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the PEN Open Book Award

    Audacious . . . Reddi has produced a social novel in the broadest sense, leading us to make connections beyond the page. Such connections stretch beyond California, requiring us to think about—to reimagine—the history of immigration in the United States.

    David L. Ulin, Alta

    Reddi’s engrossing first novel (after the collection Karma) explores the immigrant experience of Indian-Americans in early 20th-century California. . . . Reddi vividly evokes the landscape and the characters’ place in it, making the conclusion all the more wrenching. Reddi’s Steinbeck-ian tale adds a valuable contribution to the stories of immigrants in California.

    Publishers Weekly

    A richly layered historical novel that tells the stories of ordinary people living in extraordinary times . . . Reddi is a meticulous researcher, history buff and, like her character Ram, a fascinating storyteller. She skillfully embeds the ubiquitous bigotry of the time in her narrative. Although the novel provides readers with a detailed view of our nation’s past indignities, the book’s themes of racism, discrimination and anti-immigration, disconcertingly resemble the divisiveness of the United States today.


    The sweeping narrative is deeply researched and offers a fascinating look at a historic era from a fresh perspective.

    Kirkus Reviews

    Reddi’s richly imagined, character-driven novel sheds light on a little-known history of Indians in the U.S. and surprisingly echoes current events. A wonderful historical saga for fans of Jane Smiley’s Some Luck.


    Vibrant. . . . This wise and wonderfully written novel, reminiscent of John Steinbeck's best, shines a light on a little-known facet of American history: the role of Indians - or Hindustanees as they were then more commonly known - in the California farming industry during the earliest days of the 20th century. Rishi Reddi's debut is at once sweeping and deeply intimate, examining with both keen insight and empathy the plight of pre- and post-World War I sharecroppers as they struggled to adjust to and thrive in an era of constant upheaval. . . . It speaks to the question of what it means to be American, of who belongs, and, most importantly, how we can do better as a nation at guaranteeing the basic human rights and dignities of everyone who lives and works on this soil. . . . Ms. Reddi is a tremendous talent.

    Criminal Element

    ...Just a beautiful book... love stories... rivalries... murder... [it] will transport you somewhere else for a really good adventure.

    Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop

    In Passage West, Reddi expertly navigates decades of rich history through the eyes of multiple characters. . . Passage West lays out the foundation for American society today.

    WBUR Boston

    Riveting . . . . An enthralling and dramatic story . . . Passage West informs the reader at great depth about the history of Indian, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants in California without breaking the spell of the narrative.

    High Country News

    Despite being set a century ago, Passage West tells a story that feels startlingly relevant to some of today's issues, including racism, the rights of immigrants and debates about America's future.

    Boston Globe

    Rishi Reddi takes ‘epic’ to the next level with this untold PoC history of California. Passage West is a novel of California, of the U.S.-Mexico border, and of America, that you probably had no idea you needed in your life … Reddi’s prose, measured and with exquisite attention to sonics of accents and multiple languages, [is] a pleasure.

    Electric Literature

    Reddi takes up the lives of Punjabi farmers in California … Passage West is also a story of the pull of old ties; the urgency and desperation to seek love, make connections and prove oneself, so as to belong in this different world that has, inadvertently or otherwise, become home … Reddi’s novel is visual and resounds with vibrant pulsating drama.