Literary Las Vegas: “Becoming Cora” by Chuck Kannan

Sliding between the past and the present in India and America, Las Vegas author Chuck Kannan shares the tale of an adolescent girl who escapes a life of horror and takes on a new identity in a new country in his novel “Becoming Cora.” As the girl’s trusted advisor says,” As of today, your past does not exist. Sara does not exist. The child who was abused and raped does not exist. The child who gave birth, the child accused of murder, the child who was incarcerated, none of them will exist any longer.”

But Sara, known later as Cora, can’t deny her past forever. When she spots a face from her past poised to take on political power, she knows she must return to India and face her demons.

Kannan was born in India, where he earned a medical degree. He authored four textbooks in endocrinology during his tenure as chairman of endocrinology at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and now serves as a practicing endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Las Vegas.

Excerpt from ‘Becoming Cora’

“Papa, where does the sun go at night?”

He laughed. “My sparrow”— he always called her by that name—“in Indian folklore, the sea is the mother of the sun. She knows how hot he is, so she swallows him at night to cool him

and sends him to her womb where all life begins, and he is reborn every day!”

He was always so eager to share the stories and poetry of the old myths. Her father stopped a passerby and asked the stranger to take a picture of him and his daughter. The moment

had been captured forever in that photograph. She had protected and saved that picture since then, even during the most horror filled journeys of her childhood.

The other ocean that played on her memory was the Arabian Sea curving voluptuously and hugging the shores of Goa, a charming state on the west coast of India. Cora remembered the

days and evenings that she spent staring at and being fascinated by the calm blue sparkling waters while waiting to leave the land that had forsaken her. She remembered the kind words of Sister Agatha, the Catholic nun who took care of her during those difficult times when she was barely sixteen. “You must be patient, my child. These things take time.” But patience is not a virtue of any sixteen year old, and Cora was no exception.

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