Marina Budhos

Marina Budhos is an author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction.

This past year she published Watched (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House), a follow-up to Ask Me No Questions, taking on surveillance in a post 9/11 era. Set in Queens, NYC, Watchedtells the story of Naeem—a teenage boy who thinks he can charm his way through life. One day his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer him a dark deal.  Watched received an  Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature YA Honor (APALA) and is an Honor Book for The Walter Award  (We Need Diverse Books).

In March, 2017 Marina published Eyes of the World: Robert Capa & Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism, (Henry Holt & Co.) co-authored with Marc Aronson. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa and Taro took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the devastation to news magazines. In so doing, they helped birth to the idea of bearing witness with technology, bringing home tragedies from across the world.

Marina is the author of the young adult novels Tell Us We’re Home, which was a 2017 Essex County YA Pick and Ask Me No Questions, recipient of the first James Cook Teen Book Award,  an ALA Best Book and Chicago Library’s Best of the Best, among other awards.  She has published the adult novels The Professor of Light and House of Waiting, and a nonfiction book, Remix: Conversations with Immigrant TeenagersSugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science, co-authored with her husband Marc Aronson, was a 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist. Her books have been published in several countries and her short stories, articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The Daily Beast, The Awl, The Huffington Post, LitHub, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Nation, Dissent, Marie Claire, Redbook, Travel & Leisure, the Los Angeles Times, and in anthologies.

Marina has been a Fulbright Scholar to India, received an EMMA (Exceptional Merit Media Award), a Rona Jaffe Award for Women Writers,  and two Fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts.  A graduate of Cornell and Brown universities, she is a professor of English at William Paterson University, and frequently gives talks throughout the country and abroad.

She is married to the author Marc Aronson and lives in New Jersey with their two sons, Sasha and Rafi.





Naeem is far from a ‘model teen.’ Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they’re not the only ones watching. Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero—a protector–like the guys in his brother’s comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? Where does Naeem belong?


Tell Us We’re Home

Jaya, Maria, and Lola are just like the other eighth-grade girls in the wealthy suburb of Meadowbrook, New Jersey. They want to go to the spring dance, they love spending time with their best friends after school, sharing frappés and complaining about the other kids. But there’s one big difference: all three are daughters of maids and nannies. And they go to school with the very same kids whose families their mothers work for. That difference grows even bigger—and more painful—when Jaya’s mother is accused of theft and Jaya’s small, fragile world collapses.


Ask Me No Questions

Deportation. Green Card. Asylum.

For fourteen-year-old Nadira and eighteen-year-old Aisha, these are the words that define their lives.

Nadira and her family are illegal aliens, fleeing to the Canadian border – running from the country they thought would one day be their home. For years, they have lived on expired visas in New York City, hoping they can realize their dream of becoming legal citizens of the United States. But after 9/11, everything changes. Suddenly, being Muslim means being dangerous. A suspected terrorist. And when Nadira’s father is arrested and detained at the border, she and her sister, Aisha are sent back to Queens, and told to carry on, as if everything is the same.

But of course nothing is the same. Nadira and Aisha live in fear they’ll have to return to a Bangladesh they hardly know. Aisha, once the academic star, falls apart. Now it’s up to Nadira to find a way out.


The Professor of Light

The reason we went to England the first summer, the summer I was ten, lay in a long-ago promise.  And a long-ago philosopher named Heracleitus.

So begins the journey of Meggie Singh and her father, a charming, befuddled professor of philosophy from the Caribbean. Every summer Meggie and her parents pack up their luggage, leave New York City, and move to the home of Aunt Inez and Uncle Tom in England. There, Professor Singh struggles to write a book that takes on one of the greatest paradoxes to confound thinkers of the twentieth century: the dual nature of light as both particle and wave.


House of Waiting

House of Waiting tells of Sarah Weissberg, a sheltered Orthodox woman swept into a stormy romance with Roland Singh, a charismatic Indian man from the Caribbean. The two are are drawn together by their passion and shared sense of being outsiders in 1950s America. When Roland leaves Sarah in New York to seek his destiny in a bitter political struggle, Sarah creates her own home with his immigrant friends in upstate New York. There she learns the lessons of waiting and politics. And it is there, finally, that Sarah must decide whether to embark on a dangerous trip to save her marriage and learn the truth about her husband.


The Eyes of the World: Robert Capa & Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, idealistic and in love. As photographers, they set off to capture their generation’s most important struggle—the fight against fascism. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa and Taro took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the devastation to news magazines. In so doing, they helped birth to the idea of bearing witness with technology, bringing home tragedies from across the world. Forthcoming from Henry Holt and Company in February 2017.


Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science

Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos were inspired to write this book when they discovered that they each have sugar in their family backgrounds. Those intriguing tales inspired this husband and wife team to trace the globe-spanning history of the essence of sweetness, and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. As they discovered, the trail of sugar runs like a bright band through world events, making unexpected and fascinating connections.


Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers
For the last two and a half years, I have been talking to immigrant teenagers all over the country … Out of these conversations came a swirl of voices — voices that have so much to tell us.
Here, in fourteen intimate conversations, and many short interviews, teenagers from all over the world reveal their most personal struggles and triumphs.


Articles & Essays

Donald Trump’s childhood in Queens can explain his obsession with borders (Quartz)

Nowadays, most people think of Queens as a multicultural, cosmopolitan hub. But the Queens that I grew up in—the Queens that shaped Donald J. Trump—was far from a tolerant melting pot. During the 1960s and 1970s, Queens was a borough defined by tribalism, racial segregation, and simmering resentments. And it is precisely these feelings that Donald Trump has channeled throughout his presidential campaign. He conjures up a vision of a country that’s out of control, in the process of succumbing to inner city crime, violence, and danger.”

The Khans’ Real Triumph Over Trump (The Daily Beast)

Forget Donald Trump’s obnoxious response to the Khans and the dust up that created.  Their real accomplishment was to make ordinary Muslim Americans visible to the country.

When Donald Trump’s Assistant Cheated in my MFA Seminar (LitHub)

As the clanging theatrics of both conventions start to recede, it’s important to note that you can’t fake your story, even in the political sphere.

YA Meets the Real: Fiction and Nonfiction that Take on the Real (The Horn Book)

“I’ve come to trust this dual instinct in myself, the confluence of nonfiction and fiction, journalism and imagination. It’s a hunch, a gut feeling, using a journalist’s eyes and ears to notice the stories of teenagers who are often not seen; young people confronted by something bigger than what they might be able to comprehend.”

Friedan’s Village (The Awl):

A look back at Parkway Village, the birthplace of The Feminine Mystique

Summer Nights, Part 1 (Open City)

Each of us has a moment, a shiny soap bubble of memory that contains our past and predicts our future.

Summer Nights, Part 2

Parkway itself will lose its luster, its sense of magic and ascendance.  And I will begin my struggle to understand this twin heritage–luminous freedom and oppressive grievance. (Open City magazine)

Fighting for Lisa (Redbook)

In caring for her, I found my own exhilarating strength.

Living the American dream (

I am sitting in a café in Jackson Heights with Partha Bannerjee eating a quick dal and roti lunch. Jackson Heights, New York is called Little India, a wedge of narrow streets in Queens, elevated train tracks slashing a dark shadow over the Indian grocers, video and CD, sari and jewellery shops.

Two Towns, Two Americas (Integral)

Interstate 78 is a highway corridor that shoots straight west from Newark, slashing deep into the heart of suburban New Jersey. This is prime Philip Roth territory, where upwardly mobile Jews like the Patimkins in Goodbye, Columbus left their tenement origins for the tony streets of Short Hills. I’ve come here too, fresh from a cramped apartment in Manhattan, only to discover that the route to success has forked. Get off at exit 50B and depending on which way our family turns –to the left for Millburn or the right for Maplewood–we’re entering two very different Americas, with two distinct visions of education and our children’s futures.

Letter from Guyana: Reclamations (Dissent)

Last March, when the body of Cheddi Jagan, former President of Guyana, lay in state near the tiny village where he was born, the crowds of villagers and sugar workers streaming past to catch a last glimpse of their leader were so enormous that the cremation ceremony had to be postponed.



One Death, Nine Stories, edited by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr.

The day of my friend Kevin’s wake, I put on my brand-new suit–the same one that’s for my sister’s confirmation.

Except that Kevin wasn’t really my friend.  And my sister isn’t my sister.  Not by a mile.  Not any day soon.

About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror, edited by Anne Burt & Christina Baker Kline

When I was fifteen I went for an interview at a modeling school. This was my brother’s idea. He was a professional musician by then, touring on the road, and he now moved in a world of models and media and music. For some reason, he thought it would be a good idea for his kid sister, too. I had recently “blossomed,” as they said. My braces were off, my waist seemed to have stretched five inches, and when I went to get my hair cut at the local salon, the hairdresser asked if he could photograph me for their window, since my hair “showed so well.” I shrugged. The compliments gave me some pleasure but did not sink in much. –From “Inheritance”

Searching for Mary Poppins: Women Write About the Intense Relationship Between Mothers and Nannies, edited by Susan Davis & Gina Hyams

Sheila came to me by word of mouth. Another mother in my Upper West Side building had a daughter who would be starting school full-time, would need her for only a few hours in the late afternoon. My son had been born in the summer, and I was looking for a nanny to begin part-time at first. My sense of the job, of how many hours, of even what I expected a nanny to do, was completely vague–from “Sisters”

Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience, edited by Chandra Prasad

It began for us with her hair. One afternoon my mother came home with the worst hairdo I’d ever seen. She’d had it dyed and permed, only something went wrong. Her curls had kinked into an orangey, frizzy mass, accenting the freckles on her face. When she came downstairs for supper, my father took one look at her and let out a loud laugh, declaring in his West Indian accent, “You look like a mushroom gone been pickled!” Bursting into tears, my mother ran upstairs and locked herself in the bathroom.–from “Hollywood”

Make Me Over: Eleven Stories of Transformation, edited by Marilyn Singer

Victor knows he’s doomed the instant his mother emerges from the subway stop on Flatbush Avenue.

Her long black waves are gone–utterly gone. Instead her hair is a bright yellow, cropped tight against her skull. Gold hoops bounce against her long neck. With her dark, arched eyebrows, she looks good, striking even, like Halley Berry, just who his mom wants to be.

But he’s sure, with a dull angry weight in his stomach, what it means. They’re moving again.–from “The Plan”

Face Relations: 11 Stories About Seeing Beyond Color, edited by Marilyn Singer

All the time I ask my mother about my grandparents, but she doesn’t answer. “Leave that alone, Jemma,” she’ll say. “Look at what’s in front of you, not behind.”–from “Gold”

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